Health Reform Expected to Provide Free Birth Control, Social Conservatives Sulk
Dana Goldstein reports in the Daily Beast that the HHS may require all insurers to cover birth control as part of health reform's focus preventive care:
"Experts expect the Department of Health and Human Services, led by pro-choice Obama appointee Kathleen Sebelius, to spend the next six to 18 months researching women's health before releasing new guidelines for women's "preventive health care." Under the new law, services and medications defined as "preventive" must be offered to customers of new insurance plans free of co-pays—whether that insurance is employer-provided or purchased on the individual marketplace, whether inside or outside of the new, subsidized health insurance exchanges." [Daily Beast]
Needless to say, social conservative groups are up in arms about this sensible and politically popular proposal. There's not a lot the can do to stop it, now that the policy has entered the rule-making phase.
The conservative groups have to be careful. They are way outside the mainstream on this issue. Abortion is controversial in some quarters but contraception is as American as apple pie. Twenty-seven states already require health insurers to cover prescription birth control such as oral contraceptives, the IUD, and the diaphragm. The vast majority of sexually active American women say they do not currently want to become pregnant; 89% of them are using some form of birth control. Over 15 million American women are taking birth control pills.
The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops demonstrates once again that it cares less about preventing abortions than about controlling female sexuality:
""I don't want to overstate or understate our level of concern," said McQuade, the Catholic bishops' spokesperson. "We consider [birth control] an elective drug. Married women can practice periodic abstinence. Other women can abstain altogether. Not having sex doesn't make you sick."" [Daily Beast]
Even the USCCB knows better than to argue that birth control shouldn't be covered because it's sinful. They'd be laughed out of court, even in the red states. Instead, they're arguing semantics.
The USCCB claims that birth control isn't preventative care because fertility isn't a disease. No, fertility isn't a disease, but pregnancy is a life-altering health condition that can kill you. The Catholic Church itself teaches that women have to die if their survival conflicts with that of a fetus. So, pregnancy-prevention is definitely preventative health care.
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