Roundup: Catholic Bishops Coming For Your Birth Control

Robin Marty

Not content to have elminated abortion coverage from healthcare reform, now the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wants birth control out, too.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is once more trying to flex its muscles.  Not happy to have simply pushed to remove all abortion coverage from health care reform, they now have a new target: making sure birth control isn’t covered, either.


An organization representing U.S. Catholic bishops is asking federal regulators not to classify contraceptives and sterilization as preventive services, thus entitling them to full coverage under the health care reform law, in final rules.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a letter sent Friday to the Department of Health and Human Services, said that preventing pregnancy is not preventing a disease.

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Over at Lifenews, the group goes into great detail, promoting falsehoods about the dangers of hormonal contraceptives as a reason not to cover them as the plan does all other preventative medications.

Normally preventive services mean vaccines, tests, screenings, etc. that are given with minimal risk to patients to prevent—or at least detect and provide an early warning of—serious illness and life-threatening conditions. Common examples: blood pressure and cholesterol screening for hypertension, mammograms for breast cancer, Pap tests for cervical cancer, and vaccines to prevent transmission of communicable diseases.

But prescription contraceptives don’t prevent or screen for disease. Their purpose is to block the normal functioning of a healthy reproductive system. They prevent a person from being conceived or born.

Moreover, far from preventing diseases, contraceptive use is associated with many harmful side effects and actually increases the risk of acquiring certain diseases.

The World Health Organization lists estrogen as a carcinogen. Estrogen is used in combined oral contraceptives (e.g., the pill, the patch, the vaginal ring) and in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopause. U.S. breast cancer rates soared as the number of women on HRT increased from the early 1980s to 2002, when the Women’s Health Initiative trial was halted after finding elevated risks of breast cancer and stroke. Between 2003 and 2006, when HRT use dropped significantly, breast cancer rates in the U.S. plummeted 18 percent!

Cancer is not the only problem. Contraceptive Technology cites numerous studies in which estrogen in contraceptives has been associated with increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, and hypertension.

Progestin-only contraceptives—mini pills, injections, and implants—have been associated with menstrual cycle disturbance, “excessive weight gain,” hair loss, and depression. The injectable contraceptive Depo-Provera has been found to significantly decrease bone mineral density.

Aside from being immoral to use and involving the above-mentioned health risks, contraceptives don’t work very well. Fifty-four percent of U.S. women seeking abortion were using contraception the month they became pregnant. The presumed efficacy of condom use in preventing STD transmission has been shown in studies to be completely offset by complacency and “risk compensation” (more casual partners, less care in use).

Planned Parenthood is fully aware of these increased risks, yet it wants mandated contraceptive coverage for all, perhaps so women will end up having to use their other services—emergency “contraception,” STD screening and treatment, mammograms and Pap tests, pregnancy testing, and abortions. That is no reason for the federal government to force all of us to buy such coverage. Is it not wiser and healthier to avoid these risks by respecting one’s own dignity and the dignity of marriage?

But advocates are reminding the public that preventative care is just that — preventing a medical condition.  Especially in the case of pregnancy, which can be both risky and expensive.  Via The Hill:

Montana’s commissioner of securities and insurance, however, wrote to urge mandatory coverage of “the full range of women’s preventive health care needs, including family planning.”

“Pregnancy is an expensive proposition and prevention of unplanned pregnancy is highly cost effective,” writes Commissioner Monica Lindeen. “For every public dollar invested in contraception, nearly $3.75 is saved in Medicaid expenditures that would have been needed for prenatal care, labor and delivery, postpartum care, and the infant’s first year of medical care.

“In addition, the costs of complications can be very high. Women with unplanned pregnancies have more complicated pregnancies and deliveries on average due to increased likelihood of inadequate prenatal care, exposure of the fetus to harmful substances, and low birth weight.”

Can the Conference of Bishops once more outmaneuver and strong arm politicians into abandoning any promises to help women through health care reform?  It looks like we’ll have another showdown to watch.

Mini Roundup: In a very public and morbid reminder of the fragile state of maternal mortality, Times Square’s National Debt Clock has a new counterpart.  Introducing the Maternal Death Clock, which will run for three days, marking the number of women who die every day due to childbirth and complications.

September 21, 2010

September 20, 2010

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