The True Cost of Free Contraception (Hint: It’s a bargain)

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by Cara Cullivan

Recently it was announced that the government is considering the introduction of a free contraception in the aftermath of the discussion around the Eighth Amendment and, given that in a survey taken last year in which one third of Irish adults admitted to using the “pull out” method as a method of contraception, one would think this makes perfect sense.

This has, however, sparked debate about whether the taxpayer should “foot the bill” for reproductive health care. Whether the tax payer should be “made responsible” for people’s- and when they mean people, they mean women – sexual freedom. Or, that it’s“anti-family” or “anti-religious freedom”.

More birth control and education leads to better family planning and healthier babies where their mothers are healthy, prepared and safe. It means that those children who are born,are wanted children. It might even mean that those families are better able to afford the cost of raising children.

Reproductive healthcare empowers women in their life, their career and their health.Finishing school, graduating college, entering the labour force, improving their economic status, independence, and education. These are things my respective grandmothers – born and raised before Vatican II – could only dream of. They remain dreams for women and girls,globally.

Cost is one of the biggest barriers for women and their access to reproductive healthcare.The average cost of raising a child for the first year alone costs close to €15,000. And that’s one child. In 2015, households were spending an average of €11,033.64 every year on their children. Free contraception, therefore, is not a simple case of cost, it is actually the best way to prevent citizens from responsible for everyone’s sex lives.

“But the pill is so cheap, pay for it yourself”, they cry. True, say on average your pill costs about 12 euro monthly and add on your 60 euro to see a doctor every 6 months to make sure all is okay. 264 euro a year. Not too shabby? But as the cost of living rises (we’ve overtaken London in Dublin), rents triple and the income inequality gap grows, 264 euro is a lot of money and only one cost to consider. What if you’re in college in Dublin? In 2017, the cost of going to college in Dublin averaged €12,495 a year with rent. There are also 14 other types of contraception available that may be better suited for some people than the pill for either for their hormonal combination, lack thereof, or the length of their effectiveness. The coil, the bar, the IUD. 60 euro for your first consultation, and over 100 euro for insertion off the bat.Condoms, you say? Also just one type of birth control but not necessarily the most effective or safe. We’ve all seen that episode of Friends. Both used together? A match made in safe coital heaven.

Seeking birth control is responsible, paying for it helps people make responsible choices that would otherwise be closed to them because of their economic or social status. Additionally,if we’re worried about government budgets, it also works about at saving us all money in the long run and is proven to reduce public spending. As it stands, your taxes go toward State Administration, Security, Education, Community and Culture, Infrastructure, Foreign Affairs, Economic Supports, Servicing National Debt, and Health and Children. Consider how much we spent on bailing out the banks. And consider the good an investment like that could do for human beings.

In the grander scheme of things, you empower families and women to make decisions.You’re promoting gender equality and bodily autonomy, because, what do you know,pregnancy and child-rearing affect women more than men. They should thus have the right to choose what is right for them, when it is right. And money should not determine someone’s right to choose.

Speaking of choice, if you want to read our Books Ed, Chloe, talk about her opinion on the upcoming referendum to repeal the 8th amendment, click here. Or, if you have your own opinions to share, why not submit?

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