Wrong In More Ways Than One On Birth Control
Having an opinion is one thing—medical misinformation is another. This is what Michael Gerson wrote about in his Washington Post op-ed yesterday on the administration's decision to protect birth control access to women by not further expanding a refusal clause to the birth control coverage benefit under the Affordable Care Act. And how did he do this, do you ask? By falsely asserting that contraception is abortion—and in the opener, no less:
“On Jan. 20 — three days before the annual March for Life—the Obama administration announced its final decision that Catholic universities, hospitals and charities will be compelled to pay for health insurance that covers sterilization, contraceptives and abortifacients.”
The "abortifacients" he's talking about is emergency contraception, like Plan B One-Step, a commonly used form of birth control which has been declared by the FDA as just that: birth control. Not abortion. Birth control. You'd think the major health agency created by the government to protect the health of Americans through food and drug regulation would know better than This Guy—but apparently not.
Gerson is just one of a few folks who have been unhappy about Obama's decision, and apparently didn't get the memo that religious institutions are actually exempt from the coverage. But religious-affiliated institutions, like universities and hospitals, aren't, which is common sense for several reasons:
• Ninety-nine percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 who have had sex with men have at some point used birth control. (In short, we kinda love it).
• Seventy-one percent of American voters, including 77 percent of Catholic women voters, support a requirement that health plans cover birth control at no cost.
• Seventy-seven percent of Americans believe that private medical insurance should cover birth control and 74 percent believe that government-sponsored plans should do the same.
• More than a third of female voters have struggled to afford prescription birth control at some point in their lives, and as a result, had used birth control inconsistently.
And perhaps most importantly, if birth control is not available under health benefits at these institutions, 800,000 people who receive benefits through Catholic hospitals would lose them, and a whopping two million students and workers who attend universities that have a religious affiliation would also lose out.
That's a lot of people.
The reality is that the opposing Catholic bishops, Michael Gerson, and the others making a stink about this very common sense decision are completely out of touch with a very simple fact: Americans use birth control. They need it. It's a basic health care right that they should have access to—and to do otherwise would result in less birth control access, more unintended pregnancies, and more economic strife to those who need this vital health care service. Period.