Roundup: Birth Control Not Preventive Medicine

Robin Marty

Healthcare reform seems to be lacking for women, especially now that birth control is not considered preventive medicine.

The Obama administration angered a lot of reproductive rights activists yesterday when they banned abortion coverage in the high risk insurance pool that will be used to tie the uninsured over until the new healthcare insurance reforms are in place.  Less talked about was the fact that once again, contraceptives got ignored as a means of preventive medicine which could be obtained without a co-pay under new guidelines.

Jessica Wakeman of The Frisky asks:

Uh, isn’t getting birth control the very definition of a preventative service? Like, preventing a baby? Apparently not.

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Still, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America is pushing for contraception to be added as a preventative service on separate regulations regarding women’s health, which will be released in coming months. But I’m not getting my hopes up. The idea of empowering women to control their own fertility — and maybe even have sex before marriage! — is still too controversial for some people.

Expensive co-pays already make access to birth control difficult out of reach for many women, but that’s not good enough for the anti-choicers.  They want to make it impossible, by cutting it out of insurance coverage all together, just as they are doing with abortion coverage.

From Mother Jones:

Now the Heritage Foundation and the National Abstinence Education Association say they plan to join the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in resisting implementation of the new provisions.

The conservative groups are particularly worried that a birth control coverage mandate could include teenage girls and young women covered under their parents’ health insurance plans. “People who are insured don’t want to pay for services they don’t need or to which they have moral objections,” said Chuck Donovan, senior researcher at the Heritage Foundation. “Parents want to have a say over what’s covered and what’s not for their children.”

As Goldstein points out, there is overwhelming public support for contraceptive coverage. If conservative activists truly wanted to reduce the number of abortions in the US (not to mention the teen pregnancy rate), contraceptive coverage would be a common sense no-brainer. (It would also be an obvious and effective way to reduce health-care costs, as Monica Potts notes.) Unfortunately, the the anti-contraceptive, pro-abstinence-only lobby is still making itself felt in Washington: activists successfully lobbied to include even more funding for abstinence-only education under the new health law, despite mounting evidence that such programs are ineffective.

The overwhelming support comes from many strange places, including many religious denominations where views on contraception have evolved over time.  Yet the big hold out still remains the leadership of the Catholic Church, according to the Salt Lake Tribune:

Even evangelicals within mainline and nondenominational churches embraced the pill as a way that married couples could enjoy their God-given intimate relations without fear of untimely pregnancy. “Let your conscience be your guide” was the mantra.

“It was a reaction to that whole Victorian thing where sex was seen as dirty,” says Hodge, who lives in Pennsylvania.

For a culture steeped in the expectation of ever-advancing medicine, a pill to prevent pregnancy was a panacea.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ perspective evolved more slowly.

The First Presidency taught against birth control in the late 1960s, but the implicit message through the 1980s and ’90s — made explicit in the 1998 General Handbook of Instructions — was that only a couple can decide how many children to have and no one else is to judge.

In recent decades, contraception has become almost as commonplace among Mormons as among the general population, even as LDS families remain larger.

There remains one massive holdout among major Christian churches — the Roman Catholic Church.

Despite what seemed to be logical arguments— relaxed sex lives for married couples, women unfettered by large families able to enter the work force, and an antidote to perceived global overpopulation — Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae squarely rejected contraception in 1968. (The teaching is “On the Regulation of Birth” in English.)

To separate the two functions of marital intimacy — the life-transmitting from the bonding — is to reject God’s design, the pope wrote.

“The fundamental nature of the marriage act, while uniting husband and wife in the closest intimacy, also renders them capable of generating new life—and this as a result of laws written into the actual nature of man and of woman,” Humanae Vitae proclaimed.

Janet Smith, a Catholic seminary professor whose writing and talks have been influential for two decades, puts it this way: “God himself is love, and it’s the very nature of love to overflow into new life.

“Take the baby-making power out of sex, and it doesn’t express love,” Smith says. “All it expresses is physical attraction.”

Then again, this is the same church that says that ordaining women is as big of a crime as sexually assaulting children, so perhaps their views should be taken with a grain of salt.

Mini Roundup: Colorado is feeling the “personhood fever” again with their exciting amendment launch, where you will be told that fertilized eggs are “persons, not property,”  while “personhood” opponents point out that if the amendment passes it could quite literally kill some women in some circumstances.

July 15, 2010

Police probe foreign hand in abortion trade – Manila Bulletin

A New Angle on God’s Plan – Huffington Post

Vote on Kenyan constitution may spark violence – The Associated Press

Pa. answers abortion funding questions – WHYY

Argentina legalizes gay marriage in historic vote – Salon

Personhood’s Jones says amendment’s effects exaggerated but real – The Colorado Independent

ACLU works to further pro-abortion agenda – OneNewsNow

Catholic Pelosi to Receive Planned Parenthood Award for Stopping Stupak … – Lifesite

Fighting to Bring Abortion Back Into Mainstream Medicine – The Atlantic

More Senators Oppose, Support Pro-Abortion Supreme Court Pick Kagan –

Pennsylvania Insurance Dept. evades questions on federal abortion coverage – Catholic News Agency

Planned Parenthood wins first battle over Nebraska abortion law – Iowa Independent

They’re not ‘abortion doctors’ anymore – CNN

Gov. Jay Nixon passes new abortion law by doing absolutely nothing – Pitch Weekly

Colorado Amendment 62 Kicks Off Personhood Tour Featuring Pastor Walter Hoye – Christian News Wire

Nebraska Judge Rejects Abortion Restrictions – Ms. Magazine

Supporting Abortion from the Shadows – Feministe

SBA List Endorses Kelly Ayotte for US Senate in New Hampshire – Christian News Wire

Obama Funds Vote on Abortion in Kenya — Is This How He’ll Fund Abortion in … – Christian News Wire

FIRST-PERSON: The evolution of a justice – Town Hall

Reclaiming the pro-choice label – Hot Air

New Mexico cancels plan to cover elective abortion with federal funds – Catholic News Agency

Birth Control Not Free As “Preventative Service” Under New Health Care Law – The Frisky

Blocking Access to Birth Control – AlterNet

HIV remains a challenge even with promising advances and presidential involvement –

Forever 21’s maternity line stirs controversy –

July 16, 2010

Americans Remain Split on Abortion Issue – The New American

Historic Campaign Web Portal Launched for Colorado Personhood Amendment – DFW Catholic

Obama: Another promise broken? This time its all about abortion. – CRWE NewsWire

Human sperm gene 600 million years old – Times of India

What faiths teach about birth control – Salt Lake Tribune

A bitter pill? Christians examine the morality of contraception – Salt Lake Tribune

HIV replication process could be different than previously thought – Sify

China hospital refuses to treat woman with HIV – AFP

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