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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Obama's birth control policy preserves religious rights

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Almost one-half of the pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, and almost one-half of these are terminated with an abortion. Unplanned pregnancies generate large financial and nonfinancial costs for society. Most women want to regulate their reproductive capacity. It is in the interests of individuals and society as a whole to assure women ready access to effective birth control. Unfortunately, some women who want it do not have such access.

Because each $1 spent on birth control saves $3.75 in health care expenses, the authoritative Institute of Medicine recommended that insurance companies participating in the insurance exchanges created by the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act be required to cover contraceptive services. The Obama Administration appropriately followed this recommendation, endorsing a policy that serves the dual desirable goals of providing valuable preventive care and containing costs. Rather than increasing costs that must be passed on in premiums, this requirement will reduce costs and might well result in lower premiums.

Numerous states already require insurance companies to cover birth control. The fact that Catholic officials, who have been so vociferous in objecting to the Obama decision, have passively accepted these state requirements raises questions about their motives for opposing the Obama policy. Under the administration's plan, employers who have religious objections to birth control are not required to provide a penny of support for the birth control services; thus, there is no violation of religious rights. This plan also protects employees from being denied access to desirable health care because of employer religious views. The plan actually preserves religious rights.

It appears this controversy was manufactured for political purposes.

Robert Blake is a Columbia resident and a retired family physician.


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Comments

Ray Shapiro March 27, 2012 | 2:20 p.m.

("Numerous states already require insurance companies to cover birth control. The fact that Catholic officials, who have been so vociferous in objecting to the Obama decision, have passively accepted these state requirements raises questions about their motives for opposing the Obama policy.")
Robert Blake misleads the reader:
28 states were looked at by those advocating for the ObamaCare approach to health insurance contraception coverage requirements and 20 of those states allow certain employers and insurers to refuse to comply with the mandate. There are also considerations for the other 8 states with some kind of contraception providing mandate.
("For more information, please see the State Policies in Brief on Insurance Coverage of Contraceptives by the Guttmacher Institute, which features a state chart of coverage mandates.")
("HIGHLIGHTS:
 28 states require insurers that cover prescription drugs to provide coverage of the full range of FDA-
approved contraceptive drugs and devices; 17 of these states also require coverage of related outpatient
services.
 2 states exclude emergency contraception from the required coverage.
 1 state excludes minor dependents from coverage.

20 states allow certain employers and insurers to refuse to comply with the mandate. 8 states have no such
provision that permits refusal by some employers or insurers.
 4 states include a “limited” refusal clause that allows only churches and church associations to refuse to
provide coverage, and does not permit hospitals or other entities to do so.
 7 states include a “broader” refusal clause that allows churches, associations of churches, religiously
affiliated elementary and secondary schools, and, potentially, some religious charities and universities to
refuse, but not hospitals.
 8 states include an “expansive” refusal clause that allows religious organizations, including at least
some hospitals, to refuse to provide coverage; 2 of these states also exempt secular organizations with
moral or religious objections. (An additional state, Nevada, does not exempt any employers but allows
religious insurers to refuse to provide coverage; 2 other states exempt insurers in addition to employers.)


14 of the 20 states with exemptions require employees to be notified when their health plan does not
cover contraceptives.
4 states attempt to provide access for employees when their employer refuses to offer contraceptive
coverage, generally by allowing employees to purchase the coverage on their own, but at the group rate.")
http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/heal...
Also, title X should be mentioned during discussions of family planning.
Don't ya think?
http://www.hhs.gov/opa/title-x-family-pl...

(Report Comment)
James Krewson March 27, 2012 | 11:10 p.m.

The problem with "contraception coverage" is that in many cases it includes the morning-after pill. Why should those of us who have a religious objection be forced to pay higher insurance premiums so that people can have more sex? Those who want more sex and want morning after abortions should pay for it, not those who have religious objections to it. This whole issue is pure lunacy.

(Report Comment)

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