Could Birth Control Be Free Under Health Care? Not if Conservatives Have Their Way

This month, a panel will convene to discuss what constitutes "preventative health" for women under the new health care plan. And the hot topic will be whether birth control falls under that category.

Now of course, from a common-sense perspective, contraception is the very definition of preventative care. It prevents unwanted pregnancy, it prevents abortion, and proper use of condoms prevent disease. Indeed, that's the position of most public health experts and many liberal lawmakers who helped craft the policy.

"There is clear and incontrovertible evidence that planning saves lives and improves health.Contraception rivals immunization in dollars saved for every dollar invested. Spacing out children allows for optimal pregnancies and optimal child rearing. Contraception is a prototype of preventive medicine," Dr. David Grimes, an Ob-Gyn and family planning expert who teaches medicine at the University of North Carolina told the AP.

But expect the issue to  be a major one of contention when social conservatives get wind of what's happening. The Conference of Catholic Bishops and Family Research Council are already griping about birth control as a "lifestyle choice" and a secret conspiracy led by Planned Parenthood (which always begs the logic--if Planned Parenthood is so hell-bent on aborting every fetus in America, why do they also support free birth control?)

The fight on this one will doubtless be bruising, even though for most Americans the issue is moot because they or someone they love is already on the pill or another variation of birth control. As the AP reports:

The use of birth control is "virtually universal" in the U.S., according to a government report this summer from the National Center for Health Statistics. Nearly 93 million prescriptions for contraceptives were dispensed in 2009, according to IMS Health, a market analysis firm.

There's another big advantage to the proposed plan: the failure rate of contraceptives will decrease if they're more financially accessible, experts say, with less gaps in pill-taking and more women opting for long-term birth control like IUDs.

Read more at the AP.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at November 1, 2010, 3:11am