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Birth Control is for Everyone

Jessica Acee • Jul 16, 2010

The government released a list of key preventative services Wednesday, which will be covered at no “out of pocket expense” when the new health care legislation takes effect. From counseling for kids who struggle with their weight, to cancer screenings for their parents, preventive health care will soon be available at no out-of-pocket cost under the new consumer rules.

Conspicuously absent is the promised list of women’s preventative services.  That list won’t come out until August of 2011.   And making sure that birth control is covered on this list is key for the health of all women.

“Avoiding unintended pregnancy is one of the most important medical issues for women,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood.

It’s not only a medical issue, but also an economic one for nearly 11 million American women who pay monthly fees of up to $75 for birth-control pills.

Unlike on abortion rights, where opinion polling demonstrates a notoriously conflicted public, birth control is wildly popular. According to the Guttmacher Institute, seven out of every 10 American women over the age are 15 are currently sexually active and don’t want to become pregnant. Eighty-nine percent of them are using some form of contraception; 15.3 million Americans use prescription hormonal birth control.

And although Barack Obama promised on the campaign trail to fight hard for reproductive justice, during the healthcare legislative battle, the White House showed little interest in standing up to the anti-choice movement, and made no strong statements in support of either abortion rights or access to contraceptives.

To ensure access to birth control for everyone who wants it is key. Reproductive justice organizations are gearing up to push the White House on this issue.  But so are the groups opposed to holistic reproductive health care like the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Heritage Foundation.

Sometime in the next year, Health and Human Services will release regulations stating exactly what “women’s preventive health care” means and clarifying whether birth-control coverage will be mandated nationwide, as it already is in 27 states.  Obama owes it to women to start taking seriously his campaign promises and stop allowing the minority opposed to women’s reproductive rights to chip away at our health care.

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