“We picked Top Ramen because that’s what students eat,” said spokeswoman Alison Gaulden of Planned Parenthood VOX Chapter at the University of Nevada, Reno.
The chapter purchased dozens of boxes of the salty snack and displayed them at a rally. The group wants to “make sure Congress assures institutions that serve the broad public, employ the broad public and receive taxpayer dollars, should be required to follow the same rules as everyone else, including providing birth control coverage and information, “ according to VOX’s press release.
“We wanted to show what average students would save if they didn’t have to pay $600 for birth control,” Gaulden said. “Birth control is basic need for most women.”
Several curious students stopped by the booth to pick up condoms and advice, and some took photos next to the stacked Top Ramen.
“I think the students really understand that they need to finish their education and how an unplanned pregnancy can interrupt that,” Gaulden said.
Within 45 minutes, the group had collected 40 signatures in support of its effort, Gaulden said.
The Planned Parenthood VOX Chapter also had a “Listen Up or We’ll Break Up” wall where students had an opportunity to share what they could do with $600, or what it means to “break up” with Congress, by writing on a Valentine’s card.
“I think that we have to really unite as women to protect our health rights,” said student Jennifer Marbley, 22, who was working at the booth Tuesday. “We should have control over our bodies and our reproductive health rights.”
Her friend, Veronica Hoffman, believed religious institutions should not completely bar women from contraception.
“I didn’t know birth control could be that expensive,” Hoffman, 22, said. “It’s important to take responsibility. The religious institutions don’t want people to have birth control. They are just addressing sexually active women and barring it completely. Not all women who take birth control are sexually active.”
Gaulden said the campus chapter believes many women who are prescribed birth control do not need it for contraception.
“We know that of the women who have access to birth control, about half of all contraceptives prescribed have no relation to pregnancy prevention at all,” Gaulden said.
Gaulden listed many reasons for birth control prescriptions, including acne prevention, athletic performance enhancement, endometriosis, spacing children apart and other health reasons.
Planned Parenthood’s VOX Chapter is located near UNR on Fifth Street and has a club on campus for sex education and advocacy, Gaulden said.
“Our intention is to get Congress’ attention about women’s health,” Gaulden said. “It is not a political football. “
President Barack Obama announced last week a compromise for religious employers that object to birth control and his desire to see all employers provide contraception to women at no cost. Under the new plan, religiously affiliated universities and hospitals will not be forced to offer contraception coverage to their employees. Insurers will be required, however, to offer complete coverage free of charge to any women who work at such institutions.
Congressional leadership has spoken of changing the amendment with legislation. The Rubio-Manchin bill would allow any employer to refuse to provide such coverage if it is counter to their religious or moral beliefs.