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Students campaign for President Obama’s birth control decision

Lindsey Fox / Asst. multimedia editor

The central mandate of President Barack Obama’s decision to require most employers to cover birth control and insurers to offer it at no cost has been a controversial issue affecting many.

Three different Ohio State organizations, Voices for Planned Parenthood, Women and Allies Rising in Resistance and Ohio Feminists for Representation, took the issue into their own hands by campaigning on the Oval Thursday.

The new policy on birth control states most employers must offer benefits that cover birth control with no co-pay and does not provide an exemption for many religiously affiliated businesses, according to multiple news outlets. Churches and houses of worship are already exempt, however. The president is committed to ensuring that this policy is implemented so all American women have access to the same level of health care coverage.

“We are out here today to show support for President Obama and thanking him because after he made this decision, he has been receiving a lot of bad media, press and reactions from the other side of things,” said Lauren Zacks, a third-year in political science and women studies and outgoing president of Voices for Planned Parenthood. “Obama has stood up for the fact that people who get their insurance through Catholic hospitals or are students that are religiously affiliated with institutions that were not covered before will have access in the future. We want to let him know that there are people that do support him.”

Planned Parenthood donated $600 to the student organization’s campaign.

“We decided to go out and buy Ramen Noodles because as college students, this is something that most people probably have some experience with,” Zacks said. “The $600 represents how much the president said that the average woman would save under his plan without having to pay co-pays.”

Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaker of the house, delivered a speech to Congress Wednesday, vowing to repeal the policy. Boehner called it an “assault on religious liberty.”

“In imposing this requirement, the federal government has drifted dangerously beyond its constitutional boundaries, encroaching on religious freedom,” Boehner said.

The student groups decided that turning the money into something that a lot of college students could identify with helped spark interests of students passing by.

Along with a giant igloo of cases of instant Ramen Noodles, the organizations made a chart that people could write down what they would spend $600 on.

“A lot of people’s popular answers were rent, textbooks and dog food. It was things that people need and could spend money on if they didn’t have to spend money on something so vital as birth control,” Zacks said.

While giving a visual representation of what $600 could turn into, the organizations are asking students to take a direct action.

“We want them to call the White House and let the president know how they feel, and we are encouraging them to tell the president what they would spend $600 on if they had that much money lying around at the end of the year,” Zacks said. “We are trying to get people to do anything to show the president that people are paying attention and that they have invested interest in it.”

With birth control affecting a lot of people, many people agree with what Obama is trying to do.

“As a college student, money is always tight. Saving money wherever I can is important. I am on contraception and it is expensive. It is about $45 a month for me and that is $45 I would rather spend on just general living,” said Jamie Gaynes, a fourth-year in psychology and a member of Voices for Planned Parenthood. “I shouldn’t have to choose between my body and my education. We understand that $600 worth of Ramen is crazy and that is what we are trying to get across. The craziness of having to pay for autonomy over your body, it should be something that is given to you.”

Andrew Lin, a third-year in sociology, is in a relationship and feels it is necessary for his partner to be able to afford birth control.

“Having co-pay-free birth control is important not only for a woman, but for men as well and for tax payers in general because prevention saves money in the long run,” Lin said.

Any left over Ramen Noodles that students do not take will be donated to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

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