A few months ago I was chatting with my gynecologist about the new law which would force health insurance companies to pay for birth control with no co-pays beginning in 2012; as a woman currently fighting with my insurance company over their refusal to pay for my birth control, I was ecstatic about the news that the United States was moving forward in respect to women’s health.
My relief might be short-lived.
Cosmo Magazine is reporting that the Obama administration may be partially reversing their earlier decision about requiring health insurance companies to provide birth control without co-pays. It appears that Obama and company may be capitulating to lobbying efforts from Catholic hospitals and schools who are offended that health insurance companies might have to pay for birth control. If enacted, the concession won’t be for everyone, but would allow certain organizations the option to refuse to give birth control to women based on the religious beliefs of the organization.
The problem with allowing the “religious exemption” to take effect is that many Catholic women are in favor of birth control and presumably would want coverage for their own birth control. The “religious exemption” would hurt any woman employed by a Catholic institution’s ability to gain access to birth control at all.
As I discussed with my gynecologist, it is difficult to support the Catholic position on birth control. How can any organization in this day and age still truthfully advocate abstinence as the best birth control when there are so many effective birth control methods and such a large number of unplanned pregnancies in the United States and other countries? If the numbers reported in Cosmo are correct, more Catholic women are in favor of the changes made by the Obama administration than are against it.
The reality is that people have sex and that the less access there is to birth control, the more unplanned pregnancies there will be.
As I’ve mentioned before, there has been WAY too much influence by religious organizations on government policy, laws, and mandates. Refusing women access to birth control is draconian and will cause more problems for the women seeking contraception.
It’s time for the United States to enter the twenty-first country when it comes to birth control and women’s rights. Women need affordable reproductive health care options.