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Why Access to Birth Control Matters to Black Women

Hobby Lobby, birth control and you

Kellee Terrell/BET.com | 3/29/2014, 3:21 p.m.
Why is access to birth control so important to black women? depositphotos

Currently, the Supreme Court is hearing two important cases that can threaten women’s access to birth control. Read more about the Hobby Lobby cases and why access to birth control matters to black women.

Hobby Lobby, a multimillion dollar retail corporation, is suing the government because they do not believe that they should be forced by Obamacare to provide birth control, including Plan B, for its female workers as preventive care. They claim it goes against their religious beliefs.

While on the surface this case appears to be birth control and religious freedom, if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Hobby Lobby, it can open the door for conservative companies to refuse to cover employees for a range of other diseases or treatments such as cancer and STDs.

It’s no secret that black women have the highest abortion rates in the United States. Recent New York City data found that there were more abortions than live births among black women. Clearly, having stronger access to birth control that is affordable and covered could prevent unwanted pregnancies and help lower these numbers.

A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only 7.9 percent of black women have ever used a form of emergency contraception. Also, poor black youth are less likely to have access to Plan B compared to more affluent teens. It’s believed that price and lack of insurance may stand in our way of access to it.

In a survey cited on the Huffington Post, 51 percent of African-American women aged 18 to 34 reported having trouble purchasing and consistently using birth control due to its high cost. Having it included in preventive care and even covered with no co-pay can strengthen our access and keep more money in our pockets.

Past studies have shown that having consistent access to family planning services increases the chance for women to finish high school, go to college and establish their careers. Not having access can translate into not finishing high school, low-wage jobs and increased risk for poverty.

Having better access to birth control also strengthens the lives of our kids, who, when born to mothers with low access, are more likely to be incarcerated, not finish high school and have unplanned pregnancies of their own.

While birth control is important to black women, it’s also important to point out that when it comes to preventive reproductive care, we have to remember we bear the brunt of the HIV/AIDS and STD epidemics. Condoms and routine testing are just as important as birth control.

For more about access to birth control, go to BET.com.