On Monday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced new guidelines requiring health insurance plans beginning on or after Augusts 1, 2012* to cover some women’s preventive services, including birth control HIV screenings, counseling on domestic violence, and voluntarily sterilization
CNN reported that the HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the decision is a part of the Affordable Care Act’s move to stop problems before they start.
“These historic guidelines are based on science and existing literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need”
This new mandate comes only a few short months after a study was released in May reporting that unintended pregnancy in the United States cost the tax payers $11 billion dollars. The study found that two-thirds of births resulting from unintended pregnancies—more than one million births—are publicly funded, and the proportion tops 80% in a couple of states. The cost of those births, and the potential gross saving from helping women to avert them, is estimated at $11.1 billion.
While the new guidelines are certainly a win for the women’s community, the bill does have its limitations.
The Huffington Post reports that the new health care mandate makes an exception for religious organizations who morally oppose contraception. Meaning, women working in the Catholic Health Care industry or other religious groups who provide health insurance can be exempted from this new mandate.
According to a study done by the Guttmacher Institute, among all women who have had sex, 99% have ever used a contraceptive method other than natural family planning. The study found that this figure is virtually the same among Catholic women, where 98% of Catholic women who have had sex use some form of contraception despise the Catholic clergy’s opposition. So while the clergy may not approve of birth control measures, it is not stopping women from using them and wanting them to be covered under their healthcare. the The study also showed that only 2% of Catholic women rely on natural family planning, at statistic true even among Catholic women who attend church once a month or more.
Republican Representative Steve King from Iowa is one of the first congressperson to speak out about this new mandate. King had this to say:
“They’ve called it preventative medicine. Preventative medicine. Well if you applied that preventative medicine universally what you end up with is you’ve prevented a generation. Preventing babies from being born is not medicine. That’s not— that’s not constructive to our culture and our civilization. If we let our birth rate get down below replacement rate we’re a dying civilization.”
One has to wonder if King realizes that birth control is, in fact, reversible. Furthermore, preventing sexually active women and teens from unwanted pregnancy will hardly threaten the replacement rate because these women weren’t intending on having children in the first place. Making birth control an equal opportunity for women of all financial classes makes society more education and purposeful in our reproductive habits, rather than eliminating them all together.
*reports of the date the mandate goes into effect has varied from late 2012 to early 2013 . This taken was taken from CNN’s monday report.