I always have Plan B.  Just in case. I like knowing that I have another option that I can whip out of my back pocket should my preferred method fail.

Plan B pills

You thought I was talking about emergency birth control? No, and yes. I am generalizing my approach to life situations, as should every responsible adult. Disturbingly, this kind of common sense is coming under fire at Shippensburg University, where an on-campus Plan B vending machine could be revoked from the Etter Health Center following a review by the school and the FDA.

A local journalist/blogger broke the Plan B dispensary “discovery” in early February, which was quickly picked up by mainstream media outlets. This news is actually three year old news. But the story surely cranked up her Klout score.

Who would have pegged Shippensburg University- whose signature claims to fame are churning out teachers and Dean Koontz – would be a sleeper progressive hotbed of social controversy! SU is appoint on the trifecta of women’s rights issues that have cornered the nation’s attention this month, alongside the Susan G. Komen for the Cure/Planned Parenthood funding debacle and the Catholic Church’s resistance to full contraceptive coverage for employer-provided health plans offered by its hospitals and universities.

Props to SU’s president, Bill Ruud, who has so far held firm, supporting the vehement wishes of his student body, but recent comments show cracks in his resolve. Like the Komen Foundation and President Obama, he too may bow to “public consensus” or private benefactors who threaten to slap shut their purses and wallets.  

Catch the sardonic stroke with which I typed “public consensus?” As with many polarizing issues, the real people impacted are often a muted group – in these three instances, women. Their views are smothered by the tin of the squeaky wheels who seek political or financial gain. (Although with Komen there is a bright spot- the backlash triggered a groundswell support flowing Planned Parenthood’s direction.) The folks who lobby against women’s issues know how to appeal to the fleeting interests and shallow intellectual appetites of most Americans. Digging deeper into the topic raises broader, heftier questions, with unsettling answers:

Who is trying to control women’s rights and why?

The nation’s myopic influencers – predominantly men – control the contraception conversation. Politicians want votes and pander to the groups that are most vociferous about conveying their opinions (read: Conservatives). The Santorum-Duggar faction appears to support full bore spawning, with a fetus in every uterus. And notice how Republicans are increasingly equating birth control with abortion? Meanwhile institutions and organizations want to continue receiving government and private dollars, and officials inside those groups want to retain their positions. More constituents in need mean more votes, more social programs, more tax dollars needed. You see where this is going.

Why isn’t contraception – including emergency contraception – universally covered by insurance plans?

Plan B at Shippensburg costs $25. BC pills are $10 for generics, up to $40 for the name brand variety. I am on an IUD payment plan because my health coverage did not cover such a “controversial” method, even though it is 99% effective and stays put for five years.  However, if I became pregnant they would cover all costs 100%. Go figure- $1,500 for an IUD versus $3,000-$7,000 for an uncomplicated pregnancy – not counting 18 years of well child care.  Any actuary can see the logic. Yet Viagra clearly cures a necessary medical need… Here’s hoping Obama’s universal coverage mandate sees the light of day.

Birth control is a health issue. It only becomes a social issue when unintended pregnancies produce children whose parents are not financially or emotionally able to adequately provide for them, and subsequently turn to subsidized government support.

If the United States was truly concerned with advancing the best interests of society they would look to Europe. My French, German, and Swedish colleagues are fascinated by the limits of US family leave policies. They are accustomed to 1-3 years of partial or fully paid time off, including leave for fathers. In France, Wednesdays are “family day,” where a working parent has the option be relieved from work to shuttle the kids to sports, music, or dance lessons. We get FMLA, which protects your job for twelve weeks (if your employer qualifies) but not always with full pay or full benefits.

I have several vested interests in this particular topic. I am a woman and a tuition payer; my daughter is a junior at Shippensburg University. A college education is giving her entrance into a future flush with options. I hope Plan B remains one of them.


About caffeineravings

I am fighting 40 with fierce opinions and fab obliques (thanks Ab Ripper X). I work in corporate communications where I make it my mission to wade through the mind-numbing business speak and tell employees in a few simple fresh words what they need to know. My blog is my place to rant about what gnaws me today. And to give my stream-of-conscious mind a little legroom...
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