Posts Tagged Contraception
Yesterday, the Salt Lake Tribune published an op-ed from Bishop John C. Wester of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City in which the Bishop claims:
More and more, I get the distinct impression that the voice of religion is not welcome in the public square. Even more troubling, it seems to me that the bedrock of religious freedom is being limited as our government wades into the dangerous waters of defining what is or is not a church.
The HHS definition of a church essentially creates a two-tiered structure — protecting the sanctuary while relegating works of charity to an inferior, unprotected status. For the Catholic Church, the works of charity we perform through our social service agencies, schools, and hospitals are deeply rooted in the beliefs we express in the sanctuary. To define us in any other way is to violate our right to practice what we preach.
With all due respect to Wester, he’s either being deliberately dishonest or disingenuous. I’ll let you take a few moments and enjoy Stephen Colbert’s take down of the church’s position. And interesting take on the contretemps at Andrew Sullivan’s blog reads, in part:
Birth control is for 98% of women the principal means of protecting a right central to their own liberty – the right to choose when to create a family. Chances are most women employed by Catholic universities and hospitals are part of the 98%. For these women, not having access to birth control renders a crucially important right meaningless.
Full insurance coverage is a critical part of the picture. Birth control is an expensive product – $81 a month is considered a steal with no contribution from your insurance, but that number still prices out many women. Even insurance plans that have copayscan be prohibitively pricey. Cheaper alternatives like condoms have significant failure rates. Insurance, overwhelmingly provided by employers in the American system, that covers birth control with no copays is a woman’s best bet.
Women’s freedom to control their reproductive lives should be, in my mind, a central value of a modern society. It also touches on what John McGowan talked about in his book American Liberalism when he discussed effective freedom. Denying access to or making access to contraception so complex and expensive as to effectively prohibit it is an attack on women’s effective freedom, on the ability of women to self realize their goals for themselves.
Most healthcare plans will be required to cover birth control without charging co-pays or deductibles starting Aug. 1, the Obama administration announced Friday.
The final regulation retains the approach federal health officials proposed last summer, despite the deluge of complaints from religious groups and congressional Republicans that has poured in since then. Churches, synagogues and other houses of worship are exempt from the requirement, but religious-affiliated hospitals and universities only get a one-year delay and must comply by Aug. 1, 2013.
This is an important regulatory change. It includes some other important changes:
According to Health and Human Services, insurers would be required to cover not only contraception, but also HPV testing, breastfeeding support and supplies, and domestic violence screening and counseling.
This qualifies as good news. It may not sound like much, but covering contraception as a preventive service has the potential to save lots of money. Look at this way – in a house with a mom and two daughters all on contraception, they could easily be paying $50 apiece per month. That’s a $150 a month they’re saving. The cost to insurers is minimal compared to one pregnancy – which can easily cost $10,000 (which I’m told is the low end); fwiw, that works out to 66 months of birth control before you have spent more on it than on a pregnancy and birth. That doesn’t count the added insurance costs of an additional child.
Preventive services, regular exams and tests, pay for themselves many times over. I’ve used this example before but a flu shot costs $2o or $25. Get the flu and you’ll spend that much on tissues alone, not counting the cost of time off work, cold medicine, orange juice and a possible trip to the doctor. Including whiskey for hot toddies and the flu is an expensive ailment. The possible complications of the flu make it, to my mind, well worth avoiding. When providing contraceptive coverage, insurance plans are saving themselves money, but they’re also having the positive effect of empowering women around their own fertility and that is an unalloyed good.
The FDA has announced it will proceed to make Plan B (the so-called “morning after pill) legally available for 17-year olds to purchase over the counter. This overturns a Bush-era decision politicizing Plan B.
There is some misunderstanding about Plan B. It is not an abortion pill. Unlike the RU-486 pill, Plan B prevents ovulation and fertilization but will not affect an existing pregnancy. If administered within 72 hours after unprotected sex, the Plan B pill reduces a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant by 89 percent.
Making this emergency contraceptive available to young women over the counter is not going to be a cure-all in reducing teen pregnancy, however.
. . . young people in the United States have so much unprotected sex — one in three girls under the age of 20 will get pregnant, with 80 percent of the pregnancies unplanned — that Plan B has been little more than a sandbag on an overtopped flood wall. Even women who are given the medicine free often fail to take it after having unprotected sex.
It is significant to note that the judge’s decision that led to this change in FDA policy repudiates the Bush administration’s political strong-arm tactics with the FDA.
Judge Korman wrote that officials of the agency had repeatedly delayed action on the petition, moving only when members of Congress threatened to hold up confirmation hearings on acting F.D.A. commissioners. Several officials also violated the agency’s own policies, he wrote.
Citing depositions, Judge Korman wrote that agency officials had improperly communicated with White House officials about Plan B. And, he said, F.D.A. employees sought to influence decisions by appointing people with anti-abortion views to an independent panel of experts reviewing Plan B for the agency.
The agency also departed from its normal procedures, the judge wrote, by ignoring favorable conclusions about the drug by an advisory panel as well its own scientists and officials who found that the drug could be safely used by women at least as young as 17.
Such “political considerations, delays and implausible justifications” showed that the F.D.A. had acted without good faith or reasoned decision making, Judge Korman wrote.
Susan F. Wood, a former F.D.A. director of women’s health who resigned in 2005 to protest the handling of Plan B, said Monday that the judge’s decision to send the drug back for reconsideration signaled hope of the agency’s ability to act independently under a new administration.