Seriously, A Battle Over Contraceptives?

Last week, I wrote that women's groups were quietly trying to get the regulators at the Department of Health and Human Services to include birth control among the preventative services that will be covered at no cost to patients under new health insurance plans. At the time, I said that if they had any sense, anti-abortion groups would be for this, too, given that contraception prevents unwanted pregnancies. Over at Colorlines, Michelle Chen wrote that access to effective birth control is especially challenging for many women of color, and increasing access is a social-justice issue as well as a sensible, cost-saving health measure.

But over at the Daily Beast Dana Golstein reports that conservative groups might be working to mount a battle, returning to old hand-wringing that access to birth control is somehow bad for teenage girls. As Goldstein writes, this should be a pretty straightforward issue for the Obama administration's HHS. Most Americans support access to birth control, and lots of people want it. Moreover, there are legitimate health reasons for someone to be on hormonal birth control regardless of whether they're trying to prevent pregnancy. (There is evidence, for example, that birth control pills protect against ovarian cancer and can help with symptoms from uterine fibroid.)

But the biggest plus should be its cost savings. Contraception saves money over the long term; birth control, even without cost-sharing, is dramatically cheaper than abortion or pregnancy and childbearing. These are the good-sense choices we have to start making even when small but vocal minorities raise a fuss.

-- Monica Potts

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