Debating Birth Control Coverage: The Question of Choice

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As the US grapples with issues of impending wars in the Middle East, stabilizing the economy, and creating jobs, another issue has taken the spotlight in politics: birth control.Image

As part of the Affordable Care Act, employee health plans (excluding non-profit religious employers) are mandated to cover a list of preventive services (as determined by IOM recommendations) without cost-sharing. Elimination of cost-sharing has been shown to increase utilization of services, and mandating coverage at no cost has potential to cut unintended pregnancies, reduce healthcare costs, improve women’s earnings, and  improve birth outcomes.

Yet  republican candidates have become a voice for the Catholic Church and other Christian coalitions wishing to turn the mandate into a choice by employer plans. They argue that birth control is biblically unacceptable, akin to abortion and the government has no right to mandate birth control coverage.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, the arguments against coverage of birth control are shaky, and seem to undermine progress. The arguments stem from the connection between birth control and abortion, which only becomes relevant if you argue that preventing an egg and sperm from joining is essentially murder of a potential human being.

Development agencies and women’s rights groups, including Christian organizations, recognize the importance of women’s empowerment for the well-being of nations. The linkage between birth control access and women’s empowerment is clear.  Yet in the US, republican leaders are still questioning whether birth control should be an essential preventive service, even when over half of catholic voters support the mandate? Certainly all religious beliefs should be respected. But why not let the individual make the religious choice of whether to use the benefit? Having a benefit does not force anyone to take advantage of it, it simply provides a safety-net to ensure that women have the ability to choose what is best for their own health.

If you care about  women’s health in the US, now is the time to get involved and let the government know that you support ensuring women’s access to preventive services.

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2 Responses to “Debating Birth Control Coverage: The Question of Choice”

  1. sbfphc Says:

    In order to get coverage, one needs access to quality services. It would be interesting if anyone having experience in family planning in less developed countries could share those experiences in trying to improve access to services.

  2. tracykrauss Says:

    Working in a teen clinic where birth control was given out free to both males and females from 12 -18 (we were located in a high school) It wasn’t about religion but about protecting young girls from becoming mothers before they were ready, keeping them alive (as their bodies were not ready for childbirth) and reducing the spread of STD’s. God is important but I believe he would want us to do the right thing. Protection…Prevention….we were given the gift of knowing how to do it. God’s name is used to gain followers and win elections!

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