Free Birth Control.

Much of what new insurance plans will have to cover under the new health-care reform law will be determined by regulators, and women's groups want contraceptives to be included in the necessary preventative-care services that are to be provided at no cost to patients. From a financial perspective, this makes a lot of sense. Pregnancies and infants are much more expensive than the cost of a reliable contraceptive. From a women's perspective, it makes sense as well, since women who live paycheck to paycheck might struggle occasionally with regular $20 to $50 co-pays, and the effectiveness of birth control relies on regularity.

If the world made sense, groups that oppose abortion would get behind this effort, too, but so far it's only women's groups who are advocating for contraceptive inclusion in the provision. Predictably, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says fertility is not a disease and thus opposes including contraceptives as part of preventative-care services. And anti-abortion groups for the most part are still laboring to make it seem as though the health-reform bill funds abortions with federal tax dollars (they're also targeting anti-abortion Democrats who voted for the bill).

Since this is the level of discourse on pregnancy in this country -- in which one side refuses to acknowledge that some pregnancies are unwanted or that any woman could turn down the prospect of having a child -- it's hard to imagine finding common ground when it comes to offering free birth control. Which is too bad, because so many women need it.

-- Monica Potts

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