A new set of recommendations issued by a committee of experts on behalf of the Department of Health and Humans Services, suggests that all birth control practices be included into the program at no additional cost.
by N.C. Aizenman
July 20, 2011
The health-care law adopted last year directed the Obama administration to draw up a list of preventive services for women that all new health plans must cover without deductibles or co-payments. While the guidelines suggested Tuesday by a committee of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine are not binding, the panel conducted its year-long review at the request of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
In a statement, Sebelius praised the committee’s work as “historic” and “based on science and existing literature.”
“We are reviewing the report closely and will release the department’s recommendations .?.?. very soon,” she added.
Although generally expected, the committee’s decision to put “the full range” of Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives and sterilization procedures on its proposed list ignited immediate controversy.
Jeanne Monahan, director of the Center for Human Dignity at the socially conservative Family Research Council, said that many Americans may object to birth control on religious grounds. “They should not be forced to have to pay into insurance plans that violate their consciences. Their conscience rights should be protected,” she said.
Just as troubling, said Monahan, was the inclusion of emergency contraceptives such as the so-called morning-after pill sold as Plan B and the more recently approved drug sold as Ella. Both primarily work by inhibiting ovaries from releasing eggs. But antiabortion advocates argue that there is evidence the drugs can also prevent an already-fertilized egg from implanting in the womb, which they consider equivalent to abortion.