NEW YORK, NY – Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards condemned offensive comments by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee that the Affordable Care Act’s provision giving women access to no-copay birth control was created because women “cannot control their own libido”:
“The problem isn’t what Mike Huckabee says – it’s what he and too many other politicians believe. These politicians need a basic anatomy and sex ed course. Birth control is basic, preventive health care for women. It helps women plan their pregnancies and manage their lives, and many women use it for a variety of other medical reasons, including treatment of endometriosis that can lead to infertility. The fact that Mike Huckabee doesn’t understand what birth control does is a perfect illustration of why decisions about birth control should be left to a woman and her doctor, without interference from politicians.
“The Affordable Care Act was designed to reflect the realities of women’s health, which is why it covers the full range of contraceptive methods without a co-pay. Some politicians and corporations want to take this benefit away from women. Mike Huckabee and some members of the House and Senate have a vision for this country that looks an awful lot like the 1950s, and women will not let them take us back.”
- Women use birth control for a wide range of health related reasons. A report on the overlooked benefits of oral contraceptives from the Gutmacher Institute found that while the most common reason women use the pill is to prevent pregnancy, 58 percent of pill users also cite non-contraceptive health benefits as a contributing factor.
- Birth control reduces unintended pregnancy. Additionally, the Contraceptive CHOICE study led by the Washington University Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology demonstrated that access to birth control counseling, drugs, and devices without cost-sharing — as promised in the Affordable Care Act — leads to significantly lower rates of unintended pregnancy.
- Access to birth control is not just a health issue, it’s an economic issue. A 2010 survey found that more than a third of female voters have struggled to afford prescription birth control at some point in their lives, and as a result, used birth control inconsistently. This isn’t surprising considering co-pays for birth control pills typically range between $15 and $50 per month — up to $600 per year. Other methods, such as IUDs, can cost several hundred dollars, even with health insurance.
- Birth control expands opportunities for women. A 2012 report from the Guttmacher Institute confirmed that women use contraception to better achieve their life goals, with the majority of participants reporting that contraception has had a significant impact on their lives, allowing them to take better care of themselves or their families (63 percent), support themselves financially (56 percent), complete their education (51 percent), or keep or get a job (50 percent). Other reasons for using contraception, reported by a majority of respondents, include not being ready to have children (63 percent), feeling that using birth control gives them better control over their lives (60 percent), and wanting to wait until their lives are more stable to have a baby (60 percent).
- Birth control has helped women move closer to economic equity. Research finds that availability of the pill is responsible for a third of women’s wage increases relative to men. By the 1980s and ’90s, the women who had early access to the pill were making eight percent more each year than those who did not.