by Leni Preston, Chair of Maryland Women’s Coalition for Health Care
In the article posted on January 25th in the Baltimore Sun by Andrea Walker and Meredith Cohn, Catholic Services among others was cited for their “strenuous objections” to the Obama administration’s confirmation that health insurance plans must include contraception among the preventive services covered for women without additional deductibles or co-pays under the new health care law. It is important to point out that this builds on similar contraceptive coverage laws already in place in 28 states, including Maryland. This is great news for young women who, starting this fall won’t have to pay out of their pockets for contraception every month! But some have disagreed with the administration’s decision not to further expand an exception that was created for religious employers (like churches) to also exempt a broader set of other employers (like colleges and hospitals) that are “affiliated” with a religion that opposes contraception. These religiously affiliated employers will have an extra year to change the coverage policies to meet the requirement.
Concern about employers whose principles would be offended by having to provide such coverage ignores the principles of the many thousands of Marylanders plus their dependents, who need this coverage but could not get it if the exception had been expanded. Further, much evidence demonstrates that, in practice, employers would not really be paying more for this coverage, since their premiums would likely not change, or could even decrease, when contraceptive coverage is included.
Birth control use is nearly universal among women of child-bearing age, including Catholic women. No Catholic doctor or hospital would have to provide contraception, rather as an employer would have to provide health insurance that allows women employees and families to get it under their plan if they choose – just as employees can spend their paycheck as they choose. The decision that all plans must provide preventive services, including contraception is the right one – as a matter of public health, respect for individual conscience and simple fairness to Maryland women and their families.
Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.