The issue over whether birth control should be available to all women by employers at no cost remains an issue, with obstetricians/gynecologists at Northwestern University in Chicago butting heads with physicians at Creighton University in Omaha, NE, which is a Catholic institution.
In 2011, the Obama administration sought to require insurers to cover contraceptives for women . However, the Catholic church wanted an exemption from the ruling for its hospitals, colleges, and charities on religious grounds. The Obama administration tried to make a compromise in 2012, but some religious and private organizations are still not providing birth control free to their female employees in their health plans.
In the written debate, appearing in the May 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dean R. Gossett, MD, MSCI, and colleagues at Northwestern write that “[c]ontraception protects women from health risks associated with unintended pregnancy,” and that it has certain “noncontraceptive benefits upon which millions of women rely to improve their health and quality of life.”
They make these further points:
Contraception is “underused.” Almost half of all pregnancies in the United States — or three million yearly — are unintended. The highest rate of unintended pregnancies occur in low income and minority women, who tend to have “poor access to care — especially contraception.”
“Thus, contraception remains both a necessary and underused health care service,” they write.
Not using birth control is costly. The estimated costs of an unplanned pregnancy in the United States range from $9.6 billion to $12.6 billion a year, and are “virtually all preventable through the use of inexpensive, safe contraceptive agents,” the researchers note.
“Lowering economic barriers to the most effective forms of birth control, long-acting reversible contraception, has been demonstrated to improve utilization and decrease rates of abortion and teenage pregnancy,” they add.
Contraception is safe. The risk of death is higher due to pregnancy than with contraceptives, the authors argue, at 15 deaths per 100,000 live births. Comparatively, the risk of death with birth control pills is one in 1,667,000, which is about the same risk as being struck by lightening.
Withholding birth control from women is “intrusive.” Most women, no matter what their denomination, use some form of birth control — even Catholics (68 percent). “The general medical community should disavow the notion that sectarian employers or health plans can intrude upon private health decisions of their employees,” the authors write. There… Continue reading