Get your women’s health checkup today. It’s covered!

By Lois Uttley

Overdue on your mammogram or Pap smear? Trying to quit smoking or lose weight? Thinking about having a baby?

It’s National Women’s Health Week. What better time to make an appointment and get caught up on the health care you need!

Many women’s health services are now covered by our health insurance plans without extra charges, like co-pays and deductibles, because of the new health care law (the Affordable Care Act). Because we don’t have to dig into our pocketbooks for those extra charges, we can actually afford to take advantage of the health insurance coverage we have.  Examples of what’s now covered without co-pays include:

  • Cervical cancer screening for sexually active women;
  • Mammograms every 1 to 2 years for women over 40;
  • Help quitting smoking, especially if you are pregnant;
  • Cholesterol and blood pressure tests;
  • Folic acid supplements for women who want to become pregnant; and
  • Osteoporosis screening for at-risk women over 60.

There’s improved coverage for our children, as well, including no-copay coverage for immunizations against common childhood diseases, tests of hearing and vision and screening for possible autism. And, our adult children can stay on our family health insurance policies until age 26, so we don’t have to worry about them going without health insurance after graduating from high school or college. In fact, we think the coverage for moms and our kids if so great, we’re calling it MamaCare!

We will have even more great preventive care coverage starting August 1, when the women’s preventive services provision of the health care law takes effect. From then on, all new health insurance plans will be required to cover, without co-pays, these critically-important women’s health services:

  • Contraceptive services, including birth control pills, IUDs and even tubal ligations;
  • Breastfeeding counseling and rental of press pumps;
  • Screening for STIs, gestational diabetes and domestic violence; and
  • Annual well-woman visits, when you and your primary care provider can make a plan to keep you healthy.

At Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need, we’re counting down to this great new coverage that will benefit millions of women. Learn more about how you will benefit at our Countdown to Coverage website.

Lois Uttley, MPP, is co-founder of Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need, a national initiative working to make sure the Affordable Care Act meets the needs of women and our families.

HERvotes Blog Carnival: No Religious Exemption for Birth Control Coverage

by Kim Gandy, Feminist Majority Foundation

Despite enormous pressure from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Obama Administration recently decided not to broaden the religious exemption for contraceptive coverage under the Preventive Care package of the Affordable Care Act. This demand for additional exemptions,  would have denied millions of American women contraceptive coverage, including students, teachers, nurses, social workers, and other staff (and their families) at religiously-connected or affiliated schools, universities, and hospitals, as well as agencies and institutions like Catholic Charities.

The Catholic Bishops are now leading a backlash against this decision, and women are speaking out.  Because of the Affordable Care Act, millions of women who may have been denied access to birth control will now have full access under their health insurance plan, with no co-pays or deductibles, beginning in August 2012. Birth control is the number one prescription drug for women ages 18 to 44 years. Right now, the average woman has to pay up to $50 per month for 30 years for birth control. As a result, many women have had to forgo regular use of birth control and half of US pregnancies are unplanned.

Women of all faiths are employed by hospitals and schools that are owned by religious interests, and they should not be denied equal health care coverage.  We urge the Obama Administration to continue to stand strong for women’s health care.

Join us by sharing the posts below on Facebook, Twitter (using the hashtag #HERvotes), and other social media.

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

Take Action:

Join the Feminist Majority Foundation in chastising the Washington Post for repeatedly running editorials attacking the Obama administration’s decision.

Join The National Women’s Law Center and Raising Women’s Voices in thanking Kathleen Sebelius for making the right decision.

Join UltraViolet in thanking President Obama and Secretary Sebelius.

Thank the Obama administration directly on

Join the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health in telling President Obama you support birth control without co-pays.

Join The National Women’s Law Center in telling your senator to reject extreme legislation.

Join The Coalition of Labor Union Women in telling the Senate that you oppose S.2043.

Read more:

Sex, Contraception, Motherhood & The Current Madness - Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Mom’s Rising

The Long History of the War Against Contraception- Ellen Chesler, New Deal 2.0

Five Big Facts on Birth Control Not Nearly Enough Discussed by Men in the Mainstream Media- Erin Matson, NOW

Congressional Members’ Statements on Contraceptive Coverage Rule Not Based in Fact- Mara Gandal-Powers, National Women’s Law Center

Mission Accomplished With Komen: Now It’s Time to Save Birth Control Coverage!- Sammie Moshenberg, National Council of Jewish Women

Protect Women’s Health: Tell Your Senators to Reject Extreme Legislation- Judy Waxman, National Women’s Law Center

I Don’t Use Birth Control, But I Want Access To It- Abigail Collazo, Fem 2.0

This Week’s Attack on Women: Deny Contraceptives! Take Action!!- Carolyn Jacobson and Carol S. Rosenblatt, Coalition of Labor Union Women

Would You Like an Unplanned Pregnancy with that Burrito?- Jen Wang, NARAL’s Blog for Choice

HERvotes: Boehner Ups the Threat Against Contraception Coverage- Ms. Blog

Do Republicans Have Sex?- Ellen R. Shaffer, Silver Ribbon Campaign

Major Mainstream Religious Leaders Support White House on Contraceptive Coverage In Health Care Reform- Religious Institute

The Fight Millennials Never Expected: Birth Control- Sarah, Advocates for Youth

An Unholy Alliance Between the Bishops and the Right-Wing Attack Machine- Amy Allina, Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need, National Women’s Health Network

An Equal & Just World: A Woman’s Right to Control Her Own Reproductive Health- Hannah Sherman, Jewish Women International

Margaret and Helen on the Issues- Margaret and Helen

Religious Freedom in the Crosshairs of Catholic Bishops- Jon O’Brien, Catholics for Choice (Editorial in Concord Monitor)

Co-Pay for Birth Control? Not Under my Conscience Clause- Bettina Hager, National Women’s Political Caucus

Select Media Coverage:  Catholics Supporting Contraceptive Coverage Under the ACA- Complied by Catholics for Choice

Seven Things You (and the Media) Need to Know about Birth Control -Jacqueline M., Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Women Are Watching Blog

Obama’s contraception exemption puts my patients at risk -Dr. Jennifer H. Tang, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health; Letter to the Editor, The Charlotte Observer

Many Uses for Birth Control- Yolanda Evans, MD, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health

Contraception Mandate Doesn’t Force Use -Bernice Durbin, Letter to the Editor, USA Today

Why All Employers Should Provide Insurance Coverage for Birth Control -Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health

Delays and Barriers to Accessing BC at Georgetown -Sandra Fluke, Georgetown University Law Students for Reproductive Justice

How to Host a Birth Control Clinic in 3 Easy Steps -Emily T. Wolf, Fordham Law Students for Reproductive Justice

Obama Administration Ensures a Wide Range of Contraceptive Insurance Coverage, Even at Religiously-Affiliated Institutions -Women’s Law Project

Birth Control and Government: The Right of Refusal Should Belong to Women -Nancy K. Kaufman, National Council of Jewish Women

Through the Looking Glass on  Contraception Coverage -Debra Ness, National Partnership for Women & Families

For the Sisters -Megan Lieff, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Thank you, Obama, For Standing with ALL Women on Important Health Care Issues Lacy Langbecker, the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health

Birth Control Matters -Nita Chaudhary and Shaunna Thomas, UltraViolet

Would you let someone make your contraceptive decisions for you? Didn’t think so -Mara Gandal-Powers, National Women’s Law Center

?The Highs and Lows on Birth Control Access Coverage -Stephanie Drahan, National Women’s Law Center

Hey Media: It’s about the Health of Women and Families -Leila Abolfazli, National Women’s Law Center

?Women of Childbearing Age: Take Your Talents Elsewhere -Jill C. Morrison, National Women’s Law Center

My Health Is Not a Pork Chop -Dania Palanker, National Women’s Law Center

Single 18 year-old female. Desperately seeking affordable and accessible contraception. – Keely Monroe, National Women’s Health Network

NASW Supports HHS Decision on Women’s Rights -National Association of Social Workers

Fight Against the Catholic Attack on Preventative Healthcare for Women -Mallen Urso, National Women’s Political Caucus

The Impact of a Religious Exemption for Birth Control to University Students – Emily T. Wolf, Fordham Law Students for Reproductive Justice

We’re Not Giving Up! – Amy Allina, Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need, National Women’s Health Network

Maryland Women Have a Right to Birth Control- Leni Preston, Maryland Women’s Coalition for Health Care

Critics Get It Wrong on Contraceptive Coverage- Marcia D. Greenberger, National Women’s Law Center

One More Time…- Jill Morrison, National Women’s Law Center

Breaking News: Access to No-Cost Birth Control Secured- Judy Waxman, National Women’s Law Center

What Difference does a Co-Pay Make? Plenty!- Cindy Pearson, Raising Women’s Voices

The Greatest Advance for Women in a Generation- Jean Silver-Isenstadt, MD, PhD, National Physicians Alliance

#Fail on Birth Control from The Washington Post- Thomas Dollar, NARAL Pro-Choice America

Response to Washington Post Criticism of Contraceptive Coverage- Nancy Keenan, NARAL Pro-Choice America

This Week’s Attack on Women: Deny Contraceptives! Take Action!!

by Carolyn J. Jacobson, Director, Cervical Cancer Prevention Works, Coalition of Labor Union Women,  and Carol S. Rosenblatt, Executive Director, Coalition of Labor Union Women,

A few weeks ago we celebrated President Obama’s decision to implement a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires health plans to cover preventive services including contraceptives without copayments or deductibles. This is a significant victory and can save women $600 or more a year on contraceptives alone — a great help at a time of economic hardship for so many.

Immediately the backlash started: The Conference of Catholic Bishops want to deny workers in Catholic hospitals, social service agencies, etc. the right to birth control devices and contraceptives that they are entitled to under this law. Currently there is a religious exemption that applies primarily to houses of worship but they want this exemption expanded and are pressuring the Obama administration to make the change.

Polls released this week indicate that a majority of Catholics believe that employers should provide health care plans that cover contraception.

No one is demanding that women who work for Catholic institutions like a hospital be required to consume birth control pills. They should be able to make that decision for themselves without the interference of an employer or denied that right based on where they work.

Furthermore, no labor union would tolerate an employer dictating what can be bargained about. A union and the workers they represent should make that decision for the good of the workers.  It would not be tolerated for any other issue. Why is it okay when it comes to this? Are women so expendable?

CLUW President Karen See notes, “Our opponents are trying to equate contraception with abortion, which it is not! CLUW has a long-standing position on supporting the basic health needs of women; reproductive health is no exception.”

CLUW is proud of our support for contraceptive equity that dates back to 1997 and for creating our Contraceptive Equity Project in 2001. We recognized the discrimination in many health plans — denying contraceptives at the same time that 90% of plans covered Viagra — and we vowed to change that.

Senate Republican leaders on Tuesday committed to fight the new contraceptive rules if the administration does not make changes and are accusing President Obama of being hostile to religious freedom. Last month, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced a bill that would block the rules from taking effect.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said she is ready to fight back against Senate Republicans’ legislation. “My Republican friends are attempting to turn back the clock on birth control,” she said.

In her Daily Beast column, Michelle Goldberg sums it up perfectly:

And make no mistake: health plans that exclude services used only by women constitute a form of discrimination. That’s why in 2000, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that employers that cover prescription drugs but do not cover contraception are in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

CLUW needs its eActivists to do two actions:

SIGN THE WHITE HOUSE PETITION: Stand Strong in Support of New No-Cost Birth Control Policy. It’s up to pro-choice Americans to speak up for birth-control coverage. Sign your name to let the administration know that you are with them 100 percent.

TELL THE SENATE THAT YOU OPPOSE S.2043. Go to the CLUW homepage and fill out the simple box provided.


Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.


Maryland Women Have a Right to Birth Control

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.

Birth Control Under Attack

by Debra Ness, President, National Partnership for Women and Families

Anti-choice extremists are trying to undermine women’s right to birth control under the Affordable Care Act. The health reform law covers preventive services, including birth control, without copays, deductibles or other added cost. For most women of reproductive age, contraception and birth control are the care they need most, the care they get most regularly, and their main reason for interacting with health providers, so this is one of the greatest benefits to women from the new law.

We were thrilled in August when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agreed and announced that women will have access to all approved contraceptive methods without co-pays or added cost under the Affordable Care Act.

But all women need this coverage. The administration included an unfair, broad — and potentially terribly harmful — exemption for certain religious employers, who would not have to provide coverage for contraception to their employees.

Too much is on the line for these women who rely on insurance to pay for their birth control. That’s why we’re urging President Obama to do what’s right for women’s health — to remove this religious refusal provision and not leave any women behind.

Tell President Obama that all women need access to contraception without co-pays or added cost, including women who work for religious employers!

Let’s not leave any woman to fend for herself.

Cross-posted with National Partnership for Women and Families

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

Losing My Religion: Catholic Bishops Attack Reproductive Rights, Hoping to Undermine Birth Control Coverage

by Megan Kearns, Opinioness of the World

As an atheist who was born Catholic, I’m all too aware of the Catholic Church’s ridiculous no birth control stance. While the U.S. contains far more religiosity in its laws and customs than many of us may realize or admit, politicians and lobbyists often forget one crucial thing. The separation of church and state. But the church continually invades politics and healthcare. And of course attacks reproductive rights.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been doing some hardcore lobbying to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to expand a clause in the Affordable Care Act to allow any (that’s right any) religious institution to opt-out of birth control coverage. A fucking “conscience clause.” Lovely.

Is there a conscience clause for Viagara or Cialis? Nope. Cause the Catholic Church, an entity run by old white men, doesn’t care about controlling men’s reproduction. Only women’s.

The fabulous Abigail Collazzo, Fem2.0 Editor, argues:

“You know what violates my religious beliefs? Unjust war. Health insurance that covers Viagra but not abortion. Tax breaks for criminals. Punitive jail sentences for drug addicts who need treatment and counseling. The death penalty. Among many, many other things. But I don’t see anyone calling for me not to have to pay the taxes that pay for any of those things.”

“The thing is though, I don’t remember voting for the Catholic Church to be President of the United States.  Frankly, I don’t even recall seeing them on the ballot.”

It boggles my mind why the hell the Catholic Church thinks it possesses any right to deny healthcare. Shouldn’t medical decisions occur between a patient and their doctor? Absolutely (rhetorical question, folks).

When people control their reproductive health, they lead healthier and happier lives. Contraception is a tool of empowerment. It allows people to take charge of their bodies and sexuality; deciding if and when they want to have children.

Almost all women use birth control. More than 99% of women aged 15–44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method. Out of the 43 million women who are fertile, sexually active and not looking to get pregnant, 89% use birth control. But birth control affects people from various incomes differently. Denying coverage would strain peoples’ pockets.

If the Obama Administration listens to the bishops, 6 million people would be affected.  It would impact students, teachers, social workers, nurses, admin staff and their families at religiously affiliated schools, universities and hospitals. As Kim Gandy, former NOW President, writes at Ms. Magazine and HERVotes:

“…regardless of the religious beliefs of those employees and students.”

The Catholic Church wants to mandate what they constitute as “morality.” But what about my morality? What about quality healthcare? What about access to abortion and contraception? Gay marriage and adoption? Laws protecting domestic violence survivors? Evolution not creationism taught in schools? Comprehensive sex ed? No, the Catholic Church doesn’t give a shit about that kind of morality.

While President Obama is pro-choice, he has bent to the will of the anti-choice movement too many times. Responding to the shock over the Obama administration contemplating “caving to the anti-choice movement,” Jodi Jacobson at RH Reality Check writes:

“It is disturbing.  But it is also completely predictable because it has happened repeatedly. Think Stupak Amendment executive order; think Nelson Amendment to the health care reform bill in the Senate.  Think about the President’s complete 180 on the Hyde Amendment. Think about the HHS regs that voluntarily expanded the denial of coverage of abortion care, applying the Stupak Amendment to exchanges, even though this was not required by law. Think of Obama’s silence in the face of clinic violence and the death of Dr. Tiller.  Think about the continued ab-only money and the fact that our international funding is still going to discredited programs.  I could go on but will stop there because it is all too depressing.”

Um remind me again…don’t we have separation of church and state?! Hopefully Obama remembers that too. Ugh.

This post is part of the HERVotes Blog Carnival: Women v. The Bishops. Sign the petition to ask President Obama to support birth control coverage. Follow the #bcrefusal and #HERVotes tweets.

#HERVotes against the Bishops

via Feminist Majority Foundation Blog.  Today the FMF is launching their sixth #HERVotes Blog Carnival to combat efforts by Catholic Bishops to convince President Obama and HHS Secretary Sibelius to expand the refusal clause “to allow some institutions to refuse, under the Affordable Care Act, birth control coverage without co-pays to students and employees of  hospitals, universities, and other institutions, or other religious affiliated or connected institutions such as Catholic Charities.”  This exemption would mean that at least six million women with health insurance will lose their contraceptive coverage benefit simply because of where they work or go to school.

Lest anyone misconstrue this Blog Carnival as “Catholic bashing“, let’s keep in mind that the vast majority of American Catholics support birth control despite the official church position.    In other words, many Catholics believe that reproductive rights are human rights –  like their counterparts mainline Protestant churches (e.g. the  Episcopal Church of the USA) and Jewish congregations, are engaged in the “sacred work” of securing reproductive justice for women.  (this work has a long history — One of the “fathers” of the birth control pill, John Rock, was a devout Catholic; protestant chaplains, and even a few Catholic ones, helped college students gain access to birth control on campuses).

So, take action and help spread the word:  no way to birth control co-pays!

Cross posted from Knitting Clio

Tell Obama to Protect Birth Control!

by Maureen Shaw, sherights

Obama ran as a pro-woman presidential candidate. Now we will see whether it was all lip service or if he will stand up for women’s health.

Despite the fact that birth control constitutes “preventive care” under the Affordable Care Act — meaning it is covered at no cost by insurance plans — it looks as though Obama may expand the religious conscience clause concerning contraceptives. Catholic Bishops have been pressuring the Administration to do just this, which would allow religiously affiliated institutions that are not churches—such as hospitals, universities, and others—to refuse to cover birth control without co-pays for their students and employees.

This is not a surprising move on behalf of Catholic Bishops. What’s more surprising is how out of touch the Catholic hierarchy is with the lay Catholic population. According to Catholics for Choice, over 98% of sexually active Catholic women use birth control. Furthermore, 63% of Catholics believe that health insurance, whether private or government-run, should cover contraception. Right on.

Not to sound like a broken record, but religion has NO place in politics or health care whatsoever — especially a religion that has such little regard for women’s health and rights.

Do women a solid and call the White House to tell him to stand strong with us. He must not cave to extremist, religious pressures. Expanding refusal clauses to allow certain institutions and universities to refuse coverage for contraception is not what we want as a part of healthcare reform.

Cross posted from SheRights

Right-Wing Media Twist Pelosi’s “Conscience” Comment To Claim She “Bash[ed] Catholics”

by C.R. of Media Matters

Right-wing media seized on a comment Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi made about Catholics and health care providers to suggest that Pelosi was mocking Catholics for having a “conscience.” In fact, Pelosi, who is Catholic, was discussing Republican-backed “conscience exemptions” for health care providers that refuse to perform abortions, which Pelosi has said could endanger the health of women.

Right-Wing Media Claim Pelosi “Bash[ed] Catholics” With “Conscience” Comment

Doocy Asks Bishop: “What Do You Think [Pelosi Is] Talking About There With Catholics And Their ‘Conscience Thing?’ “ On the November 22 broadcast of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy interviewed Bishop William Lori, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to discuss whether the Obama administration is “anti-Catholic.” At one point, Doocy asked Lori about Pelosi’s comments:

DOOCY: Sir, I want to ask you for your reaction on something that the former speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said yesterday in the pages of The Washington Post. She said: “I am a devout Catholic, and I honor my faith and love it. But they have this conscience thing.” What do you think she’s talking about there with Catholics and their “conscience thing”?

LORI: It’s not Catholics and their conscience thing. It’s the Bill of Rights. Religious liberty is the first of our freedom [sic] and the source of all the others. I think that there are comments being made in public by lawmakers and others that really underline the reason why we have this ad hoc committee on religious freedom and why we have to, as a country, unite in defending our religious freedoms. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/22/11]

For more on the claim that the Obama administration is “anti-Catholic,” SEE HERE.

Drudge Report: “Pelosi Bashes Catholics: ‘They Have This Conscience Thing.’” On November 22, Drudge Report linked to a article about Pelosi’s comments with the headline:


[Drudge Report Archives, 11/22/11]

American Thinker: “This Conscience Thing? As In, They Have One? And [Pelosi] Called Cain Clueless?” In a November 18 post, American Thinker attacked Pelosi’s comments, writing:

Pelosi sought to defend herself from allegations that she and her husband made millions from insider trading in what the Washington Post calls a wide ranging interview. And she responded to Herman Cain’s recent reference to her as “Princess Nancy,” calling it clueless: “clueless in that you don’t say something like that.”

Unlike, for instance, when Pelosi charged that, in voting to allow health care providers a conscience exemption from providing abortions, Republicans “will be voting to say that women can die on the floor.”

Pelosi conveniently ignored that the measure passed with Democrat support.

So, in Nancy’s world, it’s clueless to jokingly call Pelosi a princess, but okay for her to accuse Republican members of Congress of saying that women can just die on the floor? “They would!” she reiterated to the Post. “Again, whatever their intention is, this is the effect.”

Before the reader can recover from her hypocrisy, Pelosi added a startling, if inadvertent, admission. Addressing the effects such legislation would have on Catholic health care providers, Pelosi said:

“I’m a devout Catholic and I honor my faith and love it .?.?. but they have this conscience thing.” (Emphasis added.)

This conscience thing? As in, they have one?

And she called Cain clueless? [American Thinker, 11/18/11, emphasis original]

But Pelosi Was Referring To “Conscience Exemptions” For Hospitals — Not Individual Conscience

In Wash. Post Article, Pelosi Was Referring To “The Conscience Protections” For “Catholic Health-Care Providers.” In a November 17 Washington Post article, Pelosi addressed criticisms of how she characterized Republican proposals to expand “conscience exemptions” for providers that refuse to perform abortions. From the article:

Pelosi recently was criticized for the way she characterized a bill to amend Republican-proposed conscience exemptions for health-care reform that allow providers to refuse to perform abortions. Pelosi called the measure, which passed last month with some help from Democrats, “savage,” and said, “When the Republicans vote for this bill today, they will be voting to say that women can die on the floor and health-care providers do not have to intervene, if this bill is passed. It’s just appalling.”

In retrospect, does she think that assessment went too far? Not at all, she said: “They would” let women die on the floor, she said. “They would! Again, whatever their intention is, this is the effect.”

Catholic health-care providers in particular have long said they’d have to go out of business without the conscience protections that Pelosi says amount to letting hospitals “say to a woman, ‘I’m sorry you could die’ if you don’t get an abortion.” Those who dispute that characterization “may not like the language,” she said, “but the truth is what I said. I’m a devout Catholic and I honor my faith and love it .?.?. but they have this conscience thing” that she insists put women at physical risk, although Catholic providers strongly disagree. [The Washington Post, 11/17/11, emphasis added]

Washington Post’s Gerson Ignores Catholics’ Opinions To Accuse The Obama Administration Of “Anti-Catholic Bias”

Cross posted from Media Matters

In a Washington Postcolumn, Michael Gerson accused the Obama administration of “systematic anti-Catholic bias,” pointing to its decision to end funding for anti-sex trafficking programs run by Catholic bishops that do not refer women who have been raped for abortions. In fact, large majorities of Catholics support allowing women who have been raped to have access to abortion.

Gerson Attacked The Obama Administration For Decision Not To Fund Bishops’ Anti-Sex Trafficking Programs

Gerson: Will Catholics In The Obama Administration “Betray Their Co-Religionists?” From Gerson’s November 14 column, headlined “Obama turns his back on Catholics”:

[T]he conscience protections of Catholics are under assault, particularly by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). And Obama’s Catholic strategy is in shambles.

Shortly before Obama spoke at Notre Dame, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts brought suit against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), seeking to eliminate a grant to programs that aid victims of human trafficking. Because Catholic programs don’t refer for abortions, the ACLU alleged that public support amounts to the establishment of religion.

The Obama Justice Department defended the grant in court. But last month, HHS abruptly ended the funding. It did not matter that an independent review board had rated the bishops’ program more effective than those of its competitors — or that career HHS employees objected to the politicized handling of the grant. HHS announced it was giving preference to grantees that offer “the full range of legally permissible gynecological and obstetric care.” This was described by one official as “standard procedure.” So it is now standard procedure in the Obama administration to deny funding to some Catholic programs based solely on their pro-life beliefs.


Broadly applied, the HHS policy would amount to systemic anti-Catholic bias in government programs.


How will the White House respond? More specifically, how will the Catholic chief of staff and America’s first Catholic vice president respond? They gave up their own adherence to Catholic teaching on abortion long ago. But are they really prepared to betray their co-religionists who still hold these beliefs? [The Washington Post, 11/14/11]

The Bishops’ Anti-Sex Trafficking Programs Do Not Refer Trafficking Victims For Abortion …

The Bishops’ Organization “Would Not Refer Women Directly” For Reproductive Services, And “Refused To Reimburse The Subcontractors With Federal Dollars.” From an October 31 Washington Post article:

The ACLU, in the lawsuit it filed in U.S. District Court in Boston in 2009, argued that many women are raped by their traffickers and don’t speak English, making it hard for them to find reproductive services without help.

While the bishops’ organization would not refer women directly, it allowed subcontractors to arrange for the services, but it refused to reimburse the subcontractors with federal dollars. [The Washington Post, 10/31/11]

… But A Study Found That Trafficking Victims Are Often Sexually Assaulted …

Nine Out Of Ten Women Have Been “Physically Forced Or Intimidated Into Sex Or Doing Something Sexual.” From a 2006 study conducted by The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, titled “Stolen smiles: a summary report on the physical and psychological health consequences of women and adolescents trafficked in Europe”:

Nearly all women (95%) reported physical or sexual violence, with three-quarters of respondents having been physically hurt, and 90% reporting having been sexually assaulted.


Women were asked if they were physically forced or coerced by fear or threats to have sex or do something sexual. Nine out of ten women in this study (90%) reported having been physically forced or intimidated into sex or doing something sexual. The majority of women who reported being coerced into sex (83%) were also physically forced (92%). [The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, 2006]

The study included the following chart:

[The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, 2006]

Recommendations Of The Study: “Respect Women’s Reproductive Rights By Offering Access To Safe Abortion Services.” Recommendations for health service providers and organizations providing services to trafficked women from the 2006 study by The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine:

3. Provide physical, sexual, reproductive and mental health support adapted from models of good practice used for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and torture, also relying on good practice guidelines for minority communities and refugees.

4. Respect women’s sexual and reproductive health rights by offering access to safe abortion services, counselling (sic) for voluntary HIV testing, anti-retroviral drugs, and post-prophylaxis, as required. [The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, 2006]

… And American Catholics Think Rape Victims Should Have Access To Abortions

Poll: 78 Percent Of Catholics Think Women Should Be Able To Obtain An Abortion When A Pregnancy Is The Result Of Rape. From A Catholics for Choice pamphlet, titled “The Facts Tell the Story”:

86% of Catholics approve of abortion when a woman’s health is seriously endangered, and 78% think it should be possible for a woman to obtain an abortion when a pregnancy is the result of rape. (GSS 2008) [Catholics for Choice, 2011]

Gerson Also Attacked The Obama Administration For Potentially Requiring Catholic Employers To Provide Birth Control Coverage ….

Gerson: Proposal To Require Employers To Cover Contraception Is A “Provocation” Against Catholics. From Gerson’s November 14 column:

Broadly applied, the HHS policy would amount to systemic anti-Catholic bias in government programs. And the provocation is one in a series. HHS has drawn conscience protections so narrowly that Catholic colleges, universities and hospitals — any Catholic institution that employs and serves non-Catholics — will be required to offer health coverage that includes contraception and drugs that cause abortion. [The Washington Post, 11/14/11]

… But Catholics Also Support Health Insurance Coverage For Contraception

Survey: 63 Percent Of Catholic Voters Support Health Insurance Coverage For Contraception And The Use Of Condoms To Prevent HIV/AIDS. A September 2009 national opinion survey of Catholic voters found that when asked, “Do you think health insurance policies — whether they are private or government — should cover … [c]ontraception, such as birth control pills,” 63 percent said yes. [Belden Russonello & Stewart, September 2009]