The right-wing media responded with outrage after the nonpartisan Institute of Medicine released a recommendation that all health insurance plans should cover contraception without cost to the consumer. But health experts agree with the Institute of Medicine's analysis that universal contraception coverage “support[s] women's optimal health.”
Institute Of Medicine Issues Recommendation To “Eliminat[e] ... Cost Sharing For Contraception”
Institute of Medicine Recommended Contraception And Contraceptive Counseling Be Considered A Preventative Service And Cost Sharing Should Be Eliminated. In a July 19 report, the independent advisory group Institute of Medicine (IOM) noted that “elimination of cost sharing for contraception therefore could greatly increase its use.” From the Institute of Medicine's report:
Despite increases in private health insurance coverage of contraception since the 1990s, many women do not have insurance coverage or are in health plans in which copayments for visits and for prescriptions have increased in recent years. In fact, a review of the research on the impact of cost-sharing on the use of health care services found that cost-sharing requirements such as deductibles and copayments, can pose barriers to care and result in reduced use of preventive and primary care services, particularly for low-income populations
The elimination of cost sharing for contraception therefore could greatly increase its use, including use of the more effective and longer-acting methods, especially among poor and low-income women most at risk for unintended pregnancy.
The committee recommends for consideration as a preventative service for women: the full range of Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity. [Institute of Medicine, 7/19/11]
Right-Wing Media Freak Out Over IOM's Contraception Recommendation
Kuhner: “Profoundly Immoral” Contraception Proposal “Is Essential To Forging A Pagan Society.” In a July 21 Washington Times op-ed, columnist Jeffrey Kuhner called the IOM's recommendations part of “Obama's culture of death,” which he argued was “essential to forging a pagan society based on consequence-free sex.” From The Washington Times:
The administration is now contemplating forcing health insurance companies to provide free birth control - including the “morning-after” pill - as part of Obamacare. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is seriously considering adding contraception to the list of services that must be fully covered by insurers without charging co-payments. HHS is expected to make its final decision before Aug. 1. In other words, Mr. Obama's government-run health care system may easily include another monstrosity: mandating that taxpayers subsidize the “morning-after” pill.
Obamacare is predicated upon massive tax increases to finance universal coverage. It is more than an unsustainable multitrillion dollar entitlement program - it is an assault upon traditional America. This proposal panders to the feminist lobby, especially Planned Parenthood - the nation's largest provider of “family planning” and abortion services. Free birth control has nothing to do with “protecting women's health.” Rather, it is about consolidating the sexual revolution. The post-1960s left has been at war with Christianity. Its aim is to erect a utopian socialist state - one built upon the rubble of Judeo-Christian civilization. In short, liberals want to create a world without God and sexual permissiveness is their battering ram. Promoting widespread contraception is essential to forging a pagan society based on consequence-free sex.
The proposal is profoundly immoral. Contraception violates the natural moral order. It decouples sexual intercourse from its main purpose: procreation. It entrenches the hedonistic ethic that sex is about recreation and individual gratification. It strikes at the very heart of a functioning, self-renewing civilization - having children and perpetuating one generation to another. This is why practically every major religion and most cultures have rightly believed that birth control, pornography, homosexuality and adultery are wrong. They threaten the basic institution of society: the traditional family. The family existed before the state; its importance transcends the state. Hence, our ancestors understood that moral standards must be upheld, not demolished. The breakdown of the family inevitably leads to social collapse. [The Washington Times, 7/21/11]
Gutfeld: “The Left Has Figured Out A Way To Eradicate The Poor. And It's By Eradicating The Poor.” On the July 20 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld said, “If you're talking about free birth control, who is going to use free birth control? The people who can't afford it. So the left has figured out a way to eradicate the poor. And it's by eradicating the poor.” [Fox News, The Five, 7/20/11 via Media Matters]
O'Reilly: “Many Women Who Get Pregnant Are” Drunk “When They Have Sex And Not Going To Use Birth Control Anyway.” On the July 21 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly argued that universal coverage of contraception would not lead to fewer unintended pregnancies because "[m]any women -- I hate to say it. It goes back to our previous segment. Many women who get pregnant are blasted out of their minds when they have sex and not going to use birth control anyway." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 7/21/11 via Media Matters]
Fox's Rios: “Let Women Stop Having Irresponsible Sex.” On the July 20 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Fox News contributor Sandy Rios said she opposed the IOM's recommendations because "[w]e can't afford it." Rios went on to recommend that women “stop having irresponsible sex,” and said that we need to “stop making excuses and providing a way to get women out of trouble when they should be responsible in their behavior.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 7/20/11 via Media Matters]
But Health Experts Agree That Contraception Coverage Is “Good Medicine, Good Public Policy And Good Fiscal Policy”
Guttmacher Institute: “The Scientific Evidence ... All Point[s] To The Same Conclusion” -- Insurance “Must Include Coverage For The Full Range” Of Contraception. In January 12 testimony to the IOM, the non-partisan Guttmacher Institute noted:
[T]he scientific evidence, the public- and private-sector precedents, and the balance of costs and benefits all point to the same conclusion: As this panel establishes its recommendations for women's preventive care and screenings, it has every reason to comprehensively incorporate family planning services. This must include coverage for the full range of reversible and permanent contraceptive drugs, devices and procedures; related clinical services necessary to appropriately supply those methods, such as insertion and removal; and the counseling and patient education that health care providers should routinely provide to help women and men gauge their own contraceptive needs and practice contraception most effectively. [Guttmacher Institute, 1/12/11]
Reproductive Health Experts: “Comprehensive Insurance Coverage Of Family Planning Is Good Medicine, Good Public Policy And Good Fiscal Policy.” In a 2004 editorial in Contraception, Ann Hwang -- then with the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health & Research -- David Grimes -- Vice President of Family Health International -- and Wayne Shields -- President and CEO of Association of Reproductive Health Professionals -- noted:
The benefits of family planning are clear and incontrovertible. Preventing unintended pregnancies averts maternal morbidity and mortality, improves child health and yields important economic benefits to society as well. For example, in 1990, every public-sector dollar spent on family planning saved US$4.40 in health and social costs. Comprehensive insurance coverage of family planning is good medicine, good public policy and good fiscal policy as well. Most U.S. citizens support it, and Congress should promptly enact the [Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act] legislation. [Contraception, 2004]
ACOG: Providing Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage To Women Would Represent A Negligible Cost To Employers And Could Save Up To $19 Billion Annually. A May 8, 2007 release from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) noted:
Nearly half of all US women will experience an unintended pregnancy at some point in their lives--31% of those pregnancies will result in an unintended birth, and 42% will end in abortion. “Unintended pregnancy can lead to a slew of negative maternal and infant outcomes. Women who were not planning a pregnancy are less likely to have a prenatal visit during the critical first trimester,” Dr. Gee noted. “These women are more apt to continue engaging in behaviors that can be harmful to a pregnancy, such as drinking, smoking, using drugs, and consuming an unbalanced diet that deprives the fetus of vital nutrients. They also tend to have less healthy pregnancies and lower-birth-weight babies.”
Unintended pregnancy is not only a burden on women. It is also costly to US taxpayers, employers, and insurers. Studies have shown that providing comprehensive contraceptive coverage to women would represent a negligible cost to employers and could save up to $19 billion annually in expenses directly related to unintended pregnancy. [American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 5/8/07]