-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
In a recent full-page paid advertisement in the Washington Post, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and dozens of leaders of Catholic organizations voiced their opposition to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rule which they describe as forcing private health providers to provide “preventive services.” The HHS plan mandates, without charging a co-pay, co-insurance or a deductible, the provision of FDA-approved contraception methods. The advertisement claims these drugs may cause abortions which, by their definition, includes any single-celled fertilized egg that doesn’t implant.
The ad claims that following the HHS rule would violate their religious liberty and freedom of conscience.
Upon closer examination, their claims are based on dubious assumptions. Consider the claim that the rule would “forc[e] almost all private health plans” to provide a particular coverage. The implication is that the government would force private insurers to provide this coverage, against their will. I am skeptical that the USCCB has surveyed insurance providers to support this claim. It is reasonable that insurance providers would see preventative measures as a cost-effective tool to reduce payouts. Many more insurance providers would provide contraception coverage were it not for pressure brought by these organizations. The HHS rule would give those insurance providers, who want to provide contraception coverage, the freedom to do so without fear of harassment or boycott.
An employer who provides workplace health insurance can, based on religious beliefs, coerce female employees to sign up with an insurance plan that does not cover contraception. An employee, who may not share the employer’s religious beliefs, is denied her right to contraception as found in Griswold v. Connecticut and Eisenstadt v. Baird.
In a news release from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the state provides a compelling rationale for the rule:
Scientists have abundant evidence that birth control has significant health benefits for women and their families, it is documented to significantly reduce health costs, and is the most commonly taken drug in America by young and middle-aged women.
Health care providers have a professional responsibility to their patients that transcends personal convictions. The duties of a health care professional are based on the best available science and are not there to be molded to fit their personal preferences.
The HHS rule includes a waiver that allows certain nonprofit religious employers to opt-out of the preventative services requirement. Other nonprofit employers who, because of religious convictions, do not provide preventative services in their insurance plans will be given one year to comply with the new rule.
The war on contraception is, in fact, a war on a woman’s right to engage in nonprocreative sexual intercourse. Those who often decry governmental intrusion in our lives are the first to support governmental intrusion into our sexual choices.
H/T: Sarah Posner.