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
- The American Fertility Association to Recognize Media’s Role in Fertility … – PR Newswire (press release)
- Catholic legal experts warn HHS against requiring coverage of contraception … – Catholic News Agency
- GOP Rep. Smith Claims Access To Abortion Care Will Undermine Millennium … – Medical News Today (press release)
- In Sierra Leone, UNFPA Engages Religious Leaders on Gender and Maternal Health – Awareness Times
- Nigeria: ‘Country Will Achieve MDGs Target On Child Mortality Reduction’ – AllAfrica.com
- Pope Benedict’s off colour remarks went too far – Belfast Newsletter
- Despite Recession, Catholic Groups Grant Charitable Funds to Anti-Gay Marriage … – The Washington Independent
- Abortion at Government Facilities? – National Review Online
- Bernero slams Snyder’s views on abortion rights – Detroit Free Press
- Clinics, doctor sue Louisiana over new abortion clinic licensing law – Shreveport Times
- High Income, Absent Father May Lead to Early Puberty – Daily Californian
- NJ family-planning funding still vetoed – Philadelphia Inquirer
- Brigham behind secretive late-term abortion clinic – Philadelphia Inquirer
- Despite overall progress, women and girls in rural areas being left out … – Human Rights Education Associates (press release)
- Paterson Vetoes AIDS Rent Cap Bill – Gay City News
- High cost of savings – Salt Lake Tribune
- Women Reminded Of Ovarian Cancer Month – WSJM
- Rights group accuses India over maternal health – AFP
- Pregnant women die needlessly every day – Daily Dispatch Online
- Teen pregnancy, incarceration rates major issues for Oklahoma – NewsOK.com
- More county children on Medicaid, state insurance program – Trinidad Times Independent
- Princeton Professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell and Maddow Talk Reproductive … – SheWired
- 90% of Ahmedabad women are unaware of cervical cancer: Survey – Daily News & Analysis
September 20, 2010
- Barbara Boxer vs. Carly Fiorina: Senate Race, Roller-Derby Style – Politics Daily
- Feature: African activists tell of struggle to improve maternal health – Amnesty International USA
- On a Clock, a Grim Toll of Mothers – New York Times
- MTV reality show teaches sex education – Web Devil
- UN official urges increased state funding for reproductive health – Xinhua
- Latest Vaginal Gel Fails to Block HIV – About.com: Health
- Oregon law on sexually explicit material struck down – KMTR NewsSource 16
- Oregon sex-literature laws ruled unconstitutional – Los Angeles Times
- Abortion clinics sue over new La. law – CNBC
- No Gender-Based Difference Seen in Anti-HIV Drug Response – BusinessWeek
- Times Square Clock Counts Deaths of Pregnant Women – AOL News
- Sexual Health Week reminder – Bega District News
- Expectant teenage parents may lose help of agency – Redlands Daily Facts
- Rajasthan women lead the way in popping birth-control pills – Times of India
- Religious leaders call for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – Examiner.com
- UNFPA Head Asks World Leaders to Put Women’s Health at Heart of Development … – PR Web (press release)
- Bishops: Health Care Law Should Not Fund Birth Control – Roll Call (subscription)
- Who is Mike Pence? – The New American
- How Abortion Protests Kill Babies – The Stir (blog)
- UIC’s IMPACT Program Launches LGBT Youth Health Videos – Newswise (press release)
- The Five Steps to Achieving MDG 5 and Saving Mothers’ Lives – Huffington Post (blog)
- Healthcare reform fight brewing over family planning – The Hill (blog)
- Senate fails to override Christie veto of $7.5 million for women’s health care – newjerseynewsroom.com
- Vivica Fox throws star power behind HIV/AIDS awareness – The South Florida Times
- Rep. Chris Smith’s anti-abortion Washington Post op-ed redefines definition of … – TBD.com (blog)
- Will God Save the Democrats? – The Atlantic (blog)
- Bernero takes on Snyder over abortion issue – Detroit Free Press
- First National HIV Strategy Relies on Prevention: Each Year, 56000 New HIV … – Medscape
- Too few kids pose population problem for city – Shanghai Daily
- Support for Repeal of Pro-Abortion ObamaCare Bill Hits Highest Mark Since May – LifeNews.com
- Population growth key barrier in achieving MDGs:experts – The New Nation
- Mexico abortion sentences reveal social collision – Reuters
- Left Pushes Pre-Paid Abortions in Defense Bill – Heritage.org (blog)
- African First Ladies Sign Declaration to End Maternal and Child Malnutrition – PR Newswire (press release)
- Should Pro-Lifers Support Abortion for Rape/Incest Victims? – Opposing Views
- Planned Parenthood, Contraception Shouldn’t be Included in Health Care Law – LifeNews.com
- Clearing the Air – University of South Alabama News
- Protesters Join LGBT Marchers to ‘Protest the Pope’ in London – EDGE Boston
- New Health Law Provisions Take Effect This Week – KCUR
- Investment in Women’s Progress Key Focus of UN’s MDG Summit and Clinton Global … – OnPhilanthropy.com
- Many women and girls left out of development gains, UN agency reports – UN News Centre
- African Activists’ Struggle to Improve Maternal Health – Huffington Post (blog)
- Haitian Women Struggle to Keep Hope Alive – Inter Press Service
- Neb. abortion docs to file fetus’ age with state – BusinessWeek
- Why Birth Control Isn’t Taught in Some Sex Ed – CBS News
- Preventing Teen Pregnancy is a Family Affair – The Fatherhood Channel
- 5 Easy Ways for Christine O’Donnell to Prevent Abortions – The Stir
- Three in Four Americans Call on President Obama to Prioritize Maternal Health … – PR Newswire (press release)
- Abortion veto override attempt in NJ Senate today – Examiner.com
- In Wake of Ballot Initiatives, Questions About the National Organization for … – The Washington Independent
- Minority bloc allots P5 million for infant and maternal health care – Inquirer.net
- PHILIPPINES: Superstition undermines maternal health – IRINnews.org
- Abortion, the death penalty, and selective prosecution. – Slate Magazine