Potter has spent weeks talking up in the media his opposition to the contraceptive coverage benefit. He’s stated that he opposes the contraceptive coverage benefit because he questions “what gives [the federal government] the right to tell [him] that [he has] to [cover birth control].” But here’s the thing: he’s admitted he would not have cared if it was “Jack Daniels or birth control”—it’sthe principle. Potter’s admitted that the root issue—“the beginning and ending of the story”—is the government trying to tell him what to do. As he said, “[he’s] got more interest in good quality long underwear than [he has] in birth control pills.”
Today, during oral arguments for the preliminary injunction, his tune may change. Contrary to his many statements, his lawyers will try to convince a Michigan district court that Mr. Potter’s religious beliefs motivate his attempt to deny his employees (and their families) the comprehensive insurance they are entitled to. That’s because the claims Potter is making require a violation of religious exercise. But proving religious beliefs are at issue won’t be an easy task. When asked what particular religious belief led him to oppose the benefit, Potter said “Well, there isn’t any one particular religious belief… I find it hard to get my head around the question.” Read more »
The law directly conflicted with the federal health care law’s contraceptive coverage requirement, which requires all new health insurance plans to cover contraceptives with no co-pay. In his announcement, the Attorney General aptly stated, “the attempt to deny contraceptive coverage to women in Missouri is just plain foolishness” and “cannot be supported by case law or sound policy.” Read more »
A study published in the journal Women’s Health Issues last week highlighted a problem many women have confronted over the years when getting their birth control: even when you have insurance, the costs for contraception can be unaffordable. The study showed that, in 2010, on average women with private insurance paid $10 for a one-month supply of generic pills, $112 for an IUD, and $116 for an implant. The study also found that costs varied depending on your insurer, with some women having to pay more than $17 a month for generic pills, $305 for an IUD, or $308 for an implant. On top of these high costs, the study found that between 2007 and 2010, insurance companies shifted to women costs for long-acting contraceptives, like IUDs and implants. In 2007, a woman paid 13.8% of the cost of an IUD, whereas in 2010 she paid 17.5%.
If these price tags have you confused, there is hope. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as “Obamacare,” contains a provision that requires health insurers to provide coverage of the full-range of FDA-approved contraceptives without cost sharing. Read more »
Earlier this month, we told you about a bill introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives that would let bosses use their religion to discriminate against female employees and make decisions about their reproductive health care. Unfortunately, the House passed H.B. 108 last week, and it is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate today at 11:30 a.m. Read more »
The CDC published new data today showing that the teen birth rate in the U.S. dropped to a historic low in 2011. The CDC attributes this in part to teens using contraception more regularly and more effectively. This is great news for a number of obvious reasons. But what it makes me really excited about is how the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage provision could help reduce these rates even more in the coming years.
Yes, I recognize how wonky my excitement is, but think about it: these new statistics are from a period of time before the ACA’s contraceptive coverage requirement went into effect. Imagine what might be coming down the road for us as more and more women have access to contraceptive coverage without worrying that they won’t be able to afford the co-pay at the pharmacy. Read more »
Alabama politicians will be voting on whether to allow your boss to make your reproductive health care decisions. H.B. 108 was introduced just last week and voted out of committee yesterday without a public hearing. It’s moving to the House floor for a vote as early as today. Alabama politicians want to allow bosses to use their religion to discriminate against the 637,666 Alabama women who get health insurance through their job or their spouse’s job.
Lately, it seems that Texas lawmakers can’t pass up any opportunity to deny women health care. In 2011, they cut funding for birth control services by two-thirds, forcing 53 clinics that provided those services to close. Then, they turned down $30 million in federal money that would have provided contraception and cancer screening to low income women, rather than allow Planned Parenthood to participate in the program. And now, a representative in the Texas House has proposed a bill that would give a tax break to companies that refuse to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees. Read more »
When my coworker posed the question, why are you celebrating women being able to access preventative services without a copay, my answer was sure and simple, “Because women deserve it.”
Not everyone agrees with that statement. If the last months of public debate have shown anything, it’s that there are a wide variety of views on the women’s right to access reproductive healthcare. Some people think it is good public policy and long overdue; others think that it’s a gift or worse, immoral.
As challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage provision pile up—on the theory that somehow more lawsuits equals more legal merit—the United Nations declares that access to contraception is a basic human right.
After recovering from shock that some in the United States would disagree with the United Nations (sarcasm!), take a look at some of the things the UN Population Fund report points out. Access to contraception is a fundamental part of women’s ability to make decisions for ourselves and realize other rights—including getting an education and participating in the workforce, both of which in turn improve nations’ economies. And financial, cultural, and legal barriers to contraception infringe on women’s rights. Read more »
Last week at a lunch with African advocates for women’s rights, we discussed pregnancy rates in Africa and the United States. Across the continents one thing remained constant—women have better outcomes when they are able to control their fertility. They enjoy greater freedom to pursue academic studies or careers, and to plan their lives as they see fit.
Opponents to birth control have made speeches decrying the rule, hosted conferences and brought lawsuit, after lawsuit, after lawsuit... Since the lawsuits have proved to be a publicity-gaining tool, we can anticipate many more. Read more »