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Once or twice in my sex life, a condom has slipped off. Or maybe I forgot to take my birth control pill, or my then-long-term partner and I just used the pull-out method. Whatever the case, accidents happen. The accessibility of over-the-counter Plan B pills in recent years has proven to be a real lifesaver, right? That is, if you can afford the $50 to buy it, because that is how much it costs, even with most insurance plans. Why is this the case? According to Elizabeth Gay of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, “The price is a result of market forces, company interest and profit.” A generic version of the drug can be bought online for $20, but who has 72 hours to wait for it arrive?
Yes, even on Medicaid it’s $50. I have to admit, I didn’t have that much money to spend on it at the time and no partner to help me pay. Luckily, I went to the Planned Parenthood where the practitioner could see me that day and give me the generic version for $21, but I still had to pay right then and there, and the practitioner had to watch me take it — as if I was gonna sell it at a higher price on the street — but I guess crazier things have been done. At the same time, I could see how it could work.
I was also lucky it was a Saturday afternoon and it wasn’t busy, so that they could see me in the first place. But what if I lived far from the Planned Parenthood and couldn’t get there? What if I was an isolated teenage girl in a rural area with no income of her own, unable to tell anyone she needs the pill? What if she was molested or raped and too ashamed to reach out? What then?
This week’s news of the Supreme Court blocking Louisiana from enforcing new regulations on abortion clinics — similar to the Texas law — does come as a relief, but not as a solution: it is simply a delay. If the recent past of the Louisiana abortion clinics is any indication for their future, then things are looking bleak. There were five abortion clinics a few years back, and now there are three.
When it comes to the South, nothing is ever permanent or to be celebrated when it comes to the female reproductive system, it seems. In Germany, for example, the morning-after pill is free for girls under age 20, and $15 for everyone else. Even that seems pricey. Why can’t it be free, or the price of tampons, at least?
Clearly, pharmaceutical companies are taking advantage of the necessity of the drug. As long as this is the case, it will still not be as accessible, even if sold over-the-counter in pharmacies. Naturally, this affects the most vulnerable people: teenage girls in the lowest monetary demographic. Don’t even get me started on the cost of abortion procedures. As long as the cost of the female reproductive health is determined by the government and the monetary interest of the pharmaceutical companies, we as a society are deeply failing.