Last week the Institute of Medicine recommended to the federal government that contraceptives be included in the Affordable Care Act’s definition of preventative care. This would mean that contraceptives would no longer be subject to a copay or deductible. Essentially, they would be free for those with insurance. For those of us who think that a society with fewer unwanted pregnancies is a better society, full coverage of contraceptives is an exciting prospect. In our country, 50% of pregnancies are unintended. One of the top reasons for this is a lack of access to birth control methods. “One in three women voters (34 percent) have struggled with the cost of prescription birth control at some point in their lives” says a survey commissioned by Planned Parenthood. Free birth control = fewer unwanted pregnancies = everybody wins!
However, apparently the prospect of requiring insurance companies to cover the full cost of contraceptives with no co-pay or deductible has some folks up in arms.
Jeanne Monahan, director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council says that “One big problem is that requiring insurers to cover contraceptives violates the conscience rights of people who belong to religions that don't believe in artificial contraception. Say for example that I had a problem with it; I would be paying into a plan that would be covering them. So in a way I would be forced to pay for it myself."
I can think of a lot of things that my tax dollars pay for that I’m not so ok with – never-ending, pointless wars and abstinence-only education for example. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the First Amendment not only guarantee me the right to practice my own religion, but to not practice yours?
Ms. Monahan also takes issue with a particular type of contraceptive: Plan B. She calls Plan B an abortifactient and claims that “…those 7 to 10 days before a baby can implant, Plan B can prevent implantation and thereby cause the demise of that baby.”
What would you call this?
Yes, it’s an egg.
Yes, it’s an egg.
And what’s this?
Right. It’s a chicken. Would you ever call an egg a chicken? Me neither. So why would you call an egg a baby? We could talk about the scientific evidence that Plan B is not an abortifacient until the cows come home…
…but this would take us away from the real issue here.
Instead of fighting this change, it seems like abortion foes would be welcoming more contraception coverage. A Guttmacher Institute study found that “as the proportion of unmarried women at risk of unintended pregnancy who used contraceptives increased — to 86 percent in 2002 from 80 percent in 1982 — the abortion rate for the same group fell, to 34 per 1,000 women in 2000 from 50 per 1,000 in 1981.” Isn’t this what they’re after – a reduction in abortions?
As Catholics for Choice points out in their letter to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, “Access to family planning has improved social and economic opportunities for women, prevented unintended pregnancies and the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, and decreased infant, child and maternal deaths.“ Even if you can’t get down with making things better for women, there’s also good news for the bottom line: Easier access to contraceptives would save our country a ton of money. Pregnant teens are less likely to graduate from high school (let alone college) and more likely to require federal aid.
In a country where women pay 60% more than men for access to health care, this potential change seems like such a no-brainer. If you agree, why not write to the Department of Health and Human Services and tell them as much?