Rep. Cole: $3000 For Birth Control ‘Does Strike Me as Pretty High’

By Elizabeth Harrington | March 6, 2012 | 6:08 PM EST

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.)

( – When asked whether the testimony of Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke that contraception without health insurance can cost $3,000 during law school was accurate or not, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said “the figure does strike me as pretty high" and added that he did not think contraceptive costs were that much today.

At the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, asked Rep. Cole,  “Georgetown Law Student Sandra Fluke testified before Congress and said that contraception without insurance can cost up to $3,000 during law school.  But we found a Target store that’s 3 miles from Georgetown Law that offers a month’s supply of birth control pills for $9 a month, without insurance.  So, do you think her testimony was accurate?”

Rep. Cole said, “You know, I don’t know enough about her, I certainly didn’t have the opportunity to hear her testimony and honestly certainly agree that the reaction toward her was not appropriate in some quarters. Having said that, the figure does strike me as pretty high.”

Cole continued:  “Now, I’m a long-time away from having worried about anything like this, sadly, at my age -- but it didn’t cost anything like that now, my limited knowledge is it doesn’t now, so.”

“There’s a religious liberty question here, there’s a fairness issue here in terms of insurance,” said Cole. “But I really don’t think there’s a cost issue that’s quite the magnitude she suggested.” then asked if insurance companies should be forced by the federal government to cover the cost of contraception.

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Cole said, “Look, I think that’s between the person being insured and the insurance company. I think insurance companies will cover whatever their client wants to do.   I just don’t think anybody should be forced to do something that is against their religious conscience.”

“So, organizations that have a problem with it should not be mandated to provide it for people,” said Cole.   “On the other hand, individuals ought to be free to do what they choose to do.”

Law student Sandra Fluke. (AP Photo)

“This is a pretty readily accessible type of medica – well, medication’s not even the right word,” said Cole.  “It’s very accessible in the private markets, so I think people ought to be able to figure out a way to get it without mandating or requiring that somebody that has a religious objection pay for it or provide it.”

Fluke, a 30-year-old Georgetown Law student and reproductive justice activist, testified at a House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on Feb. 23, speaking in favor of the Health and Human Services mandate that requires all health insurance plans to cover sterilizations and FDA-approved contraceptives, including those that induce abortion.

Fluke’s testimony included alleged examples of her fellow students, who were unnamed but who apparently face financial trouble in accessing contraception because their health insurance doesn’t cover the cost or they personally cannot afford it.

“On a daily basis, I hear from yet another woman from Georgetown or from another school, or who works for a religiously affiliated employer, and they tell me that they have suffered financial, emotional and medical burdens because of this lack of contraceptive coverage,” said Fluke.

“Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school,” she said.  “For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that's practically an entire summer's salary.”

However, as reported a Target store only 3 miles from Georgetown Law offers a month’s supply of Tri-Sprintec for $9, making the total cost of birth control pills for 3 years of law school $324. Tri-Sprintec is the generic form of the birth-control pill Ortho Tri-Cyclen. Both drugs are FDA-approved and chemically identical to one another.

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