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Obama Administration Mandates Contraception / Sterilization Coverage

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Adopting the recommendation of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the Obama Administration on August 1 announced its decision to require all health insurance plans to cover contraceptives and sterilizations as basic care under the new health care law.  As parts of an essential "preventive care" package, "contraceptive methods and contraceptive counseling" as well as sterilizations will be covered with no copayments. "Not doing it would be like not covering flu shots," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The Obama administration's decision to grant entitlement status to contraception is thoroughly ideological.  It is not medical.  Pregnancy is not a disease.  Fertility is a natural state - it is not a health impairment to be treated medically with birth control.  Birth control to prevent pregnancy is not health care - it's a lifestyle choice.  As such, American citizens, many of whom are morally and medically opposed to contraception, should not be forced to pay for it with their tax dollars.

Not only is contraception not health care, it can actually kill the embryonic child and physically harm the mother. Most, if not all, hormonal contraceptives can cause early chemical abortions by blocking the implantation of the newly formed human embryo in the uterine wall. This is what is termed a pre-implantation chemical abortion as opposed to a post-implantation chemical abortion, such as mifepristone or RU-486. These abortifacient hormonal contraceptive drugs include the pill, the morning-after pill or Plan B, Ella, the patch, Depo-Provera, and the IUD. 

Ella, labeled as an "emergency contraceptive (EC)" by the FDA, has both pre- and post-implantation mechanisms of action.  It can work by blocking implantation of the human embryo but also has the same chemical makeup and mode of action as RU-486, and thus can block progesterone and kill an already-implanted embryo. It is widely accepted that Ella is an abortion drug.  It will now be covered as basic health care as if it were no more controversial than a flu shot.

The physical health risks of contraception are not to be casually dismissed.  The drug in hormonal birth control pills has been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen, or a "definite" cause of cancer, by the World Health Organization (WHO). The pill has an increased risk of heart attack, blood clotting, stroke, cancer of the liver, gall bladder disease and hypertension.  The WHO has associated Plan B with a heightened risk of ectopic pregnancy and Ella can cause severe allergic reactions.  Of course, none of these hormonal contraceptives prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Pro-Life Wisconsin opposes all forms of artificial birth control, including barrier methods. Why?  They engender a contraceptive mentality. Contraception separates sex and babies, but when contraception inevitably fails and a baby is conceived, that baby is looked upon as a mistake, an accident, a problem.  And every problem must have a solution. The predominant solution for an unwanted baby is abortion.  Practically speaking, abortion becomes back-up contraception. It becomes a form of contraception in and of itself.

The abortion/birth control industry repeatedly claims that the most effective way to lower the abortion rate is to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, and that the most effective way to reduce unintended pregnancies is to expand access to contraception.  But the "more contraceptives, fewer abortions" theory is false.  The facts speak for themselves.  The medical journal "Contraception" published a January 2011 study finding that a 63% increase in contraceptive use over 10 years among Spanish women corresponded with a 108% increase in the abortion rate in Spain.1 In New York City, more than 40% of pregnancies end in abortion, almost twice the national rate. And yet New York City has dozens of public programs making contraceptives widely accessible at no or low cost throughout the city.2  The reverse is true; the more contraception is liberally distributed, the more abortions go up.

Establishing birth control as basic care is a prelude to the (un)holy grail of the pro-abortion movement: establishing abortion as basic care.  If that occurs, intolerance of abortion will not be brooked.  We are sliding down the slippery slope.


1Daniel Allot, The Contraception Contradiction, The Catholic World Report, (May 2011).

2 Ibid.


Read "The "Contraception Contradiction" by Daniel Allot, The Catholic World Report.

Read "The Misguided Birth-Control Crusade Continues" by Greg Pfundstein, National Review Online.