November 7, 2011 — "The Obama administration made the right call in August when it issued new standards requiring all insurers to cover contraceptives without a deductible or a copayment, starting next year," a New York Times editorial states. Going forward, the administration "needs to resist pressure from House Republicans, the Roman Catholic Church and other groups out to eliminate or significantly weaken the contraceptives mandate," the editorial argues.
HHS' new rule "already exempt[s] churches and other religious institutions from having to provide contraceptive coverage for their employees," the editorial states. "Nevertheless, church leaders are calling for an expansive exemption for all employees of Catholic hospitals, charitable organizations, elementary and secondary schools, and colleges and universities," the editorial notes.
The editorial argues that if the exemption is expanded, it "would, in effect, deny coverage for contraceptives for millions of women who may not be Catholic and may disagree with the church's stance on birth control."
At a House subcommittee hearing last week, Catholics for Choice President Jon O'Brien "criticized the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for doing the very thing that it wrongly accuses the administration of doing: trying to impede 'the religious freedom of millions of Americans' by 'taking reproductive health care options away from everybody,'" according to the Times. O'Brien "testified that 98% of sexually active Catholic women in the U.S. have used a form of contraception banned by the Vatican," the editorial adds.
The editorial notes that HHS' rule adopts the recommendations of an Institute of Medicine panel, "which studied the medical facts, including high rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion largely caused by lack of access to birth control." The editorial concludes, "President Obama should stand by the policy" (New York Times, 11/5).