Fifty-three percent. According to a study done in 2013 by College Factual, this is the percentage of our student body that identifies as female, and the percentage that constantly has to worry how their college hookups with a man may change their entire life trajectory. The current presidential administration is threatening to significantly roll back the Affordable Care Act (ACA), particularly attacking the birth control mandate that makes no-cost contraceptives readily accessible. Due to this, 53 percent of our community will continue to be anxious about their rights to their own bodies until Middlebury College demonstrates its support, stating that healthcare system changes will not affect student access to contraception.

According to Planned Parenthood’s website, nine out of 10 women will be on some form of birth control throughout their lives; before the ACA’s birth control provision, one in three women struggled to afford birth control. As Planned Parenthood reports, the ACA rollbacks have been a huge loss for Planned Parenthood’s movement. If the courts decide in favor of the Trump administration, these changes will allow companies, universities and other institutions to choose whether or not they will cover contraceptive methods or Plan B as a part of the insurance they offer based on moral or religious beliefs. Therefore, if you receive health care coverage from Middlebury College, the college would be able to decide whether or not your birth control method will be covered by their plan.

In response to the Trump administration’s attacks on the birth control mandate, Planned Parenthood’s national movement, which is fighting to protect women’s access to contraceptives and ensure that they retain agency over their own bodies, has seen a huge influx of over one million new supporters. Planned Parenthood’s #Fight4BirthControl campaign is working to educate people on why these rollbacks matter, who they effect and what we can do to take action and fight back. According to an article on the Planned Parenthood website, young women, especially women of color and the LGBTQ+ community, will be the most affected by these rollbacks as, before the ACA provisions, these were the groups already disproportionately vulnerable to lack of access to birth control.

Campus campaigns are popping up around the nation in the hope that their colleges or universities will make a statement ensuring no-cost access to contraceptive methods. Princeton University’s website explains their #Fight4BirthControl petition day in which they collected 300 signatures to urge the administration to continue their commitment to their students’ care, regardless of federal government policy changes. Feminist Action at Middlebury (FAM), a student organization on campus that acts as a Planned Parenthood Generation Action Branch, is committed to continuing this fight here at Middlebury College by tabling in the library entranceway the week after spring break with these petitions.

The long-term goal of FAM is to get Middlebury’s administration to release a statement that demonstrates to our student body their commitment to our reproductive health and our ability to make decisions about our reproductive future. Birth control should not be controversial. It is a human right, and it should be protected.

If you are interested in the #Fight4BirthControl campaign that we will soon be launching on campus or have other feminist issues you are passionate about, please attend a FAM meeting on Tuesday nights in the Chellis House from 8:00-9:00 p.m.

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