The Contraceptive Mandate: What Is Its RealImpact?
By Susan E. Wills
April 16, 2012
of the Health and Human Services (HHS) contraceptive mandate endlessly
these claims: contraception is an essential preventive healthcare
is the chief barrier to access; and those who object to the mandate are
war on women."
These are red
herrings to distract from the core issue: the Administration's
violation of rights of conscience and religious liberty in forcing
everyone who offers or purchases a health plan—including faithful
most Catholic employers—to cover sterilization procedures,
claim access is a problem, while also asserting that over 99% of
active American women age 15-44 have used contraceptives?
women can't afford contraceptives? They received $2.37 billion in
federal and state funding for family planning in 2010. Oral
contraceptives are also available from many pharmacies for a few dollars
have access! Contraceptive use is "virtually universal" among sexually
experienced teens (96%), according to an October 2011 report on teen
sexual activity and contraceptive use
by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The good news
is that most teens are now
choosing self-control instead of fertility control with hormones and
57% of girls 15-19 and 58% of boys have never
had sex. Since 1988, abstinence rates increased 20% among these girls
50% among boys.
importance of this trend cannot be overstated, because one-third of
active teen girls will become pregnant—despite using
years of initiating sex. And young people aged 15-24 acquire close to 10
million new sexually transmitted infections each year. Many STDs are
and annual treatment costs are estimated to exceed $14 billion.
contraceptive mandate is not just about access to condoms and pills.
"rights" advocates hope it will help take fertility out of the control
contraceptive users (who may not always take a pill promptly or use a
instructed) and give control to drug companies and doctors, by switching
expensive "long-acting reversible contraceptives" (LARCs).
In its 1995
"Uneven and Unequal" position paper, the Guttmacher Institute proposed a
plan to accomplish this through health care reform:
methods must be covered by all plans, along with surgical procedures
co-pays or minimums required. This eliminates the barrier of the high
upfront costs of implants ($800) and IUDs (up to $1,000), and the
quarterly office visits for injectables.
- With cost no longer a barrier, only one
obstacle remains: Parents! How does a girl on her parents' insurance
an IUD without their finding out? The Guttmacher "solution" is reflected
March 21 "Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking": Spouses
and dependents must be included in all policies, and confidentiality and
privacy between the insurer and user are
mandated. Parents need never know, and the teen doesn't even need to
borrow or steal the co-pay from Mom and Dad.
"solution" to unplanned pregnancy is appalling on many levels, not the
which is that these more effective methods can pose even greater health
to girls and women. The estrogen/progestin combination in most methods
increases the risk of the two most common cancers in women: breast and
cancer. Depo-Provera doubles the risk of acquiring AIDS and other STDs,
even 12 months' use can double breast cancer risk. The contraceptive
doubles the risk of blood clots and death, compared to second-generation
Nuvaring's manufacturer is facing at least 730 U.S. lawsuits for
injuries and deaths. In a large study of copper IUD users, two-thirds
abdominal pain and a 60% increase in bleeding.
why do some people think contraception prevents
health problems? And why is it a "war"
on women to speak up for their health, and their freedom to say no to
is Assistant Director for Education & Outreach, United States
Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. To learn more
Catholic bishops' activities on conscience protection, visit www.usccb.org/conscience.