As a recent college graduate, I have experienced firsthand how important it is for young women to have access to the health care we need. As my friends and I begin to start our careers, we are certain that we would like to start families on our own terms, rather than on the terms our employers or the government.
While it might be difficult for a man who came of age in the 1960s to understand, our careers come first for us right now.
There is a long history of old men trying to police the sexuality and sexual expression of young women. Including the option for a “moral” objection to copay-free birth control allows for employers to unfairly attempt to influence the behavior of their employees by withholding funding toward one of the most important health care decisions many young women make. The choice of when to become a mother is relatively new, but it has quickly become essential in ensuring our career success, stability and independence.
It is essential that we have access to the services we need. The professional world can be a difficult place to navigate as a young woman in many different ways, from pay negotiations to leadership to sexual harassment. We do not need it further complicated by the constant fear of getting pregnant, or the humiliation of having to talk to a superior about personal birth control decisions, not to mention an actual pregnancy and the tough decisions and sacrifices that come along with that.
As the current options place the burden on the woman in a relationship to ensure that she doesn’t get pregnant, copay-free birth control is essential to our continued success and achievement as well as our health and peace of mind.
Many of us are managing our own budgets, beginning to chip away at student loans, planning big moves and gaining independence — the last thing we need is to pay an extra $600 a year for peace of mind. This doesn’t even take into account my peers who were not able to attend college or who are unemployed. For these individuals, $600 a year could lead to a choice between birth control and essential food and shelter, or in other terms, staying alive and healthy or becoming a mother against her will.
Keeping birth control copay-free could be the difference between a long, productive career and and financially stable family, and financial uncertainty and abandoned possibilities. My future should not be dependent on my government’s or boss’ moral impositions.
Louise Lyall is a research associate at One Wisconsin Now. She graduated in May from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in English and political science.
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