BC Recession-Style, Pt. 1

by Anna

Disclaimer re: hormonal BC — I don’t use hormonal BC myself, and am frustrated by the fact that options that are less burdensome to finances, health and the environment don’t get nearly as much press as the latest version of ‘the Pill’. BUT most U.S. women use the Pill at some point in their lives, and it’s the best choice for a lot of people, so I’m focusing on that in this post.

If you’ve got fetus-holding/making/growing parts and you are between the ages of 12 and 60 (or , alternatively, if you like having sex with people of that persuasion), then a vital piece of sex positivity and sexual freedom for you is probably birth control.

Despite the huge number of contraceptive methods on the market, half of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended and about 11% of sexually-active women who don’t want children are not using a BC method at all. The number of women using reliable birth control climbs to a scary 16.2%, when you include the women who are using withdrawal as their primary contraception.

Part of what impedes access to reliable BC  methods are finances. Co-pays and mandatory pelvic exams can make starting a new method expensive, even for women with insurance. For those without insurance, these costs are even more prohibitive.

Several years ago  I, having no insurance, went to a clinic to get birth control.  I went tho this particular clinic because I knew there was a sliding scale.  In order to get what I needed, I had to get a pelvic exam and the nurse practitioner determined that I needed a name-brand pill because of my medical history.  As a result, even after having taken my $1000/month income into account, I owed $200 and would have to pay $43 a month for my birth control pills.  That was when I started looking at other contraceptive options.

After reading comments to blog posts and essays on access to birth control, I’ve seen that despite the 2009 Affordable Birth Control Act and the woefully underfunded  Title X program, women continue to have similar experiences.  The recent recession only exacerbates the problem and it is uncertain how the Health Reform bill passed this year will deal with contraception. While condom sales are up and the birth rate is down in this bad economy, the women who are most vulnerable to loss of income have less access to contraception than ever.

The truth is, access to contraception lies at the troubled intersection of a profit-driven health care system  and ideological conflict. As a result, women, especially low-income women and women of color, have fewer choices and less control over their lives.

While links don’t fix a broken system, there are some resources available to St. Louis women and women across the U.S. that are, I think,  under-advertised and which might be helpful:

Pharmacies nation-wide have added the birth-control pills to their $9/month list. Here’s a list.

For many St. Louis people with uteri, the Contraceptive Choice Project run by Washington University has provides 2-3 years worth of birth control as part of participation in their long-term study. I have it through a fairly-reliable grapevine that right now they are mostly looking for people interested in long-term methods such as the two kinds of IUD/IUC and Implanon. But that could change, so if you are interested in other methods, then check with them anyway. Disclosure – I have been involved with this study myself and love it/the people there/the IUD they gave me, but I also know others who have had less than positive experiences with the CCP. Try it out!


  1. Speaking for the fellas, I would have to say this: If you’re not interested in having children, or already have a brood, go out and get snipped, for fuck sake. It’s not that expensive, takes only one trip (outpatient, plus a follow-up to determine if any of your little soldiers remain), and a few days labor-less recovery. I did this in ’99, my wife and I have been getting down on the good foot since then, and have had no problems. Plus, the cauterizing laser makes it smell like BBQ in the room, so you’ll be hungry when you get out. Bonus!

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