US university students are paying about five times more for the birth-control pill than they were a few months ago, due to a provision in the Deficit Reduction Act. Many lawmakers say the provision, which prevents drug companies from donating the pill to campuses as a way to attract brand loyalty, was an unintended consequence of the legislation.
Activists, including actress Amber Tamblyn, want to fix the mistake and are lobbying Congress to pass the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act. They say there is no good reason to prevent the donation of medicines, which reduce the price of the pill for struggling college students. With the pill spiking to more than $50 a month (from $12) some female students report taking up more part-time work, or cutting back on their grocery or social spending.
Still others, including proponents of abstinence, argue that it is irresponsible and detrimental to student health to distribute discounted oral contraception that does not prevent STDs.
Will the price of the pill make it unfordable to some, and therefore lead to more unintended pregnancies, or will students just have less beer money? Is it fair that the financial burden imposed by the law is disproportionately felt by female students?