According to a 2010 survey commissioned by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, 55 percent of women ages 18-34 have struggled with the cost of birth control. Right now, we have a great opportunity to improve the safety and health care of women by reducing the financial barrier to the procurement of birth control. Soon, the United States Department of Health and Human Services will decide whether to classify birth control as preventive medicine (“Contraceptives proposal ignites student debate,” 2/9/2011). If it receives this status, insurers will be required to provide birth control without a co-pay, which means that insured women will be able to receive free birth control.

This week, members of Nursing Students for Choice — an organization that aims to promote women’s rights and reproductive health — are collecting signatures nationwide as a part of the “Birth Control for Me” — or BC4ME — campaign to show support for this measure. We support this idea because improving access to birth control is one of the best ways to empower women, increase their control over their own health and help prevent unintended pregnancies — thereby reducing the need for abortion.

Look for Penn Nursing students on Locust Walk or at a table in the School of Nursing in order to contribute your signature and learn more about how you can help. You can also visit ProChoiceAmerica.org/bc4me.

-- Kathryn Severson and Lindsey Cushing The authors are undergraduate students in the School of Nursing.

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