Did you know that 98 percent of American women use birth control during their lifetime?
Yet for many women, it's simply too expensive. One in three women has struggled with the high cost of prescription birth control.
The consequences are staggering. Young adults ages 18-24 have the highest rate of unintended pregnancy in the United States -- and nearly one-third of female teenagers become pregnant before reaching the age of 20. Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended.
Fortunately, the days of unaffordable birth control could end soon. Under a provision of the health care bill signed into law by President Obama, contraception could be considered preventive care, as it should be. This means that insurance plans would have to cover contraception without a copay.
NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation has launched a campaign called BC4ME (Birth Control for Me) to make sure the government follows through on the health-care law's promise to improve women's access to vital health services. We expect the federal government to decide this summer whether to include no-cost birth control in the law's implementation.
Last week, the BC4ME campaign unveiled a new Facebook application. The application lets you know how much money you -- or your girlfriend, partner, wife, daughter, or sister -- would save in your lifetime if you didn't have to pay out-of-pocket costs for birth control.
The Facebook application is a fun and interactive way to see how this policy change could have a real impact on your life. Already, more than 10,000 people have calculated the personal impact that no-cost birth control would have on them.
Liliane in Pennsylvania remembers what it was like to have her husband out of work while he recovered from open-heart surgery. It was tough raising three kids. She could have used every extra cent just to pay for food for her family.
Lauren from Virginia missed a few of her student-loan payments when she was in the Peace Corps. Before she knew it, the interest was piling up. Now Lauren isn't sure if she can afford the higher education she needs to advance her career as a social worker.
For every woman who continues to use birth control even in times of financial difficulty, like Liliane and Lauren, there's a woman like Nicole who sacrifices her birth control because her other expenses are just too much.
I wish I could say that we were facing no opposition to no-cost birth control. After all, who could be against a policy that would reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy?
Sadly, some anti-contraception groups are already fighting tooth and nail to block this policy change. The leader of one anti-contraception group had this to say about birth control: "We don't consider it to be health care, but a lifestyle choice."
A lifestyle choice? This ridiculous attitude towards women's health is astounding! The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Public Health Association, and the Society for Adolescent Medicine all refer to family planning as recommended preventive care.
Check out the BC4ME Facebook application, and find out how no-cost birth control would benefit you and your loved ones.
Follow Nancy Keenan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NARAL