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USCCB again urges: no contraception, sterilization mandates in health care

CWN - November 17, 2010

Addressing the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Preventive Services for Women on November 16, Deirdre McQuade, spokeswoman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged that contraception and sterilization be excluded from the list of “preventive services” that insurance companies will be compelled to provide free of charge, without copayments, under the health care legislation passed in March.

While the Obama administration has not included contraception and sterilization in the list of preventive services in its “Interim Final Rules,” Planned Parenthood is lobbying for their inclusion.

“The Conference has a particular concern that contraceptives and sterilization not be mandated as ‘preventive’ services,” said McQuade. “To prevent pregnancy is not to prevent a disease—indeed, contraception and sterilization pose their own unique and serious health risks to women and adolescents. In addition, contraceptives and sterilization are morally problematic for many stakeholders, including religiously-affiliated health care providers and insurers.”

“Use of prescription contraception actually increases a woman’s risk of developing some of the very conditions that the ‘preventive services’ listed in the Interim Final Rules are designed to prevent, such as stroke, heart attacks and blood clots (especially for women who also smoke), so a policy mandating contraceptive services as ‘preventive services’ would be in contradiction with itself,” she continued, adding:

Currently, such employers and insurance issuers [who object to contraception and sterilization] are completely free under federal law to purchase and offer health coverage that excludes these procedures. They would lose this freedom of conscience under a mandate for all plans to offer contraception and sterilization coverage.

Thus the Administration’s promise that Americans who like their current coverage will be able to keep it under health care reform would become a hollow pledge.

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