Conservative activists now try to redefine the word preventive to exclude birth control
It’s been a fun week. First it’s not rape unless it’s ‘forcible rape’, a Walgreens’ pharmacist isn’t disciplined for refusing to dispense an anti-bleeding drug, and now this:
The Obama administration is examining whether the new health care law can be used to require insurance plans to offer contraceptives and other family planning services to women free of charge. The law says insurers must cover “preventive health services” and cannot charge for them. The administration has asked a panel of outside experts to help identify the specific preventive services that must be covered for women.
Dr. Hal C. Lawrence III, vice president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said contraceptives fit any reasonable definition of preventive health care because they averted unintended pregnancies and allowed women to control the timing, number and spacing of births. This, in turn, improves maternal and child health by reducing infant mortality, complications of pregnancy and even birth defects, said Dr. Lawrence, who is in charge of the group’s practice guidelines. But the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and some conservative groups, including the Family Research Council, say birth control is not a preventive service in the usual sense of the term.
Administration officials and Democrats in Congress said free preventive care was just one of the health care law’s benefits for women. It also prohibits insurers from charging women more than men of the same age for the same coverage. Such disparities have been common. As a result, premiums for women have often been 25 percent to 50 percent higher than those for men.
“Pregnancy is not a disease to be prevented, nor is fertility a pathological condition,” said Deirdre A. McQuade, a spokeswoman for the bishops’ Pro-Life Secretariat. “So birth control is not preventive care, and it should not be mandated.”
Never mind this:
In a report more than 15 years ago, the Institute of Medicine said financial barriers to contraception “should be reduced by increasing the proportion of all health insurance policies that cover contraceptive services and supplies, including both male and female sterilization, with no co-payments or other cost-sharing requirements.”
Brand-name versions of oral contraceptives can cost $45 to $60 a month or more, not including the cost of a doctor visit for a prescription. In recent years, many health plans have increased co-payments for prescription drugs, so even women with insurance may end up paying half the cost of birth-control pills.
Why do we care what any council of bishops thinks about women’s health? Seriously?