Free Birth Control: Welcome News or Big Brother Government?

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by Pregnancy.org Staff

In the news: Should insurers have to provide birth control without co-payments?

Half of all pregnancies in the United States are because of an "oops."

Recently the government decided to require insurers to include a full range of FDA-approved birth control methods available without co-pays or cost sharing. This mandate includes breast pumps for nursing mothers, an annual "well-woman" physical, screening for the virus that causes cervical cancer and for diabetes during pregnancy, counseling on domestic violence, and other services.

The administration realizes that this is a controversial requirement. The buzz is that some healthcare providers feel it will encourage women to take better care of themselves, religious or those with philosophical objections to birth control strongly feel like the government is overstepping its bounds.

Wendy Sears Grassi, the director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Central and southwest Florida, says women struggle to be able to afford birth control, even at reduced prices. "The most important aspect is women everywhere will be able to plan their families," Grassi states. "There won't be as many unintended pregnancies. With the economy the way it is people can't afford to get pregnant."

The research done by the Guttmacher Institute is astounding. In 2006, of the 2 million publicly funded births, 51% resulted from unintended pregnancies, responsible for more than $11 billion in costs. It seems the government isn't off their rocker creating this requirement from a cost perspective.

Not everyone is happy with this decision. Religious leaders such as Frank Murphy, director of communications for the diocese of St. Petersburg, says the Catholic Church has been consistent in its opposition to contraceptives. "The key issue," Murphy is quoted saying, "is with Catholic organizations, like universities, offering insurance plans that don't cover birth control. The Obama plan creates a conflict," he said. "It's not something the government should be involved in. That is something we think is the decision of the family and of God," Murphy concluded.

Then there are those who feel it's a great move by the government and applaud the Department of Health. John Kieffer, the president of the Atheists of Florida says, "Birth control has to be seen as a reproductive right. The paradigm issue is do women have control of their bodies, are there reproductive rights, does reproduction always have to be connected to sexual acts or gratification?"

Mr. Kieffer feels strongly that not allowing women access to birth control creates greater issues, like abortions. Since so many women aren't able to get proper insurance in the first place, large numbers seem to give up on their health. This is more common that people think. One Florida OBGYN said that, "There is no question in my mind, because people skip their well-woman exam because they don't have insurance. You have to see a doctor to get prescription; most people don't do that, especially young people," the OBGYN stated.

Seems like the bottom-line is that folks without insurance are in trouble beyond this issue. Birth control is a smaller part of the bigger problem. How do you feel about it? Chime in and leave a comment!

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