Pregnancy tests should be free at pharmacies

Current reproductive healthcare options are inaccessible

Monica believes affordable pregnancy testing is the next step in improving female reproductive health.
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There has recently been heightened media attention on the accessibility of menstrual products for women of lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

This attention has led to policy improvements and the development of new ventures to prevent “period poverty.” This same attention, however, has not been applied to another product essential to reproductive health: pregnancy tests.

Pregnancy testing is the first step toward family planning. With the recent overturn of Roe v. Wade, it’s important to understand how socioeconomic limitations impact other aspects of reproductive health. The sooner a woman finds out she’s pregnant, the more time she has to decide how she would like to handle the pregnancy.

Pregnancy itself often causes mixed emotions regardless of a person’s circumstances, and the additional cost of pregnancy tests can increase stress in these situations. There are many different scenarios in which the high cost of pregnancy tests could limit their use.

Whether you’re a woman from a lower socioeconomic standing or a woman repeatedly trying for a baby, the added costs of numerous pregnancy tests takes a financial toll. Testing too early can lead to false negatives and follow-up testing, so numerous tests are often required.

The price of a single in-home pregnancy test by a leading brand ranges from $13 to $15, plus tax. If you test too early or want to confirm the pregnancy, you may need two or more tests that may not have been budgeted for.

Although cheaper alternatives exist, they do not carry the same brand awareness as Clear Blue or First Response—people understandably opt for more trusted brands when dealing with possibly life-changing news. Even if you want to choose a more cost-effective option, the generic brand is typically only a couple of dollars cheaper.

Some may argue if you can’t afford the pregnancy tests then you can’t afford a child; however, conception is not always intentional or even desired. You should not have to pay to find out what is inside your body.

It’s important to acknowledge there are free alternatives for pregnancy testing, including booking a doctor’s appointment or accessing a free clinic. However, accessibility remains an issue for people of lower socioeconomic status who may not be registered with a family doctor.

Waiting in line at a walk-in clinic can involve crowds and long wait times, adding to the stress or anticipation of a result. The main reason people opt for in-home pregnancy tests is to get their results in a more comfortable setting. For some, booking an appointment at a clinic or doctor’s office can be uncomfortable or leave them feeling stigmatized.

In addition, if the person is a minor, taking larger steps and involving more people could cause further discomfort. This reproductive healthcare is further inaccessible for minors who may be limited to clinics nearby or by the price of the pregnancy test.

For women in abusive circumstances, it may be easier to go to a local store than go to a medical professional. In-home pregnancy tests are also more discrete and time effective.

Ultimately, the only barrier to remove is a pregnancy test’s unnecessary cost.

Increased early testing provides mothers with governance over their bodies and agency over how to proceed with their pregnancy. Making them free in local pharmacies would remove the discomfort of going to a clinic or calling the doctor.

Many have likely never given much thought to the aisles of pregnancy tests and how much they cost, but it’s crucial to recognize this point of privilege. When dealing with health issues and their associated societal costs, we must consider the lower denominator and how their life could be impacted by financial inaccessibility.

You should be able to know if you’re pregnant without paying upwards of $20. You should be able to receive that news in a comfortable environment of your choosing. You should be able to find out as soon as you want and not have to wait an extra day at the health provider’s availability.

You should be able to get an in-home pregnancy test for free at your local pharmacy.

 

Monica Aida Lopez is a third-year Biotechnology student.

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