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Should birth control be free?
Under health-care reform law, women could get the morning-after pill free of charge  — if the government decides it qualifies as preventive medical care
 
As recently as the 1990s many health insurance plans did not cover birth control. Today, almost all plans, including Medicaid, cover prescription contraceptives.
As recently as the 1990s many health insurance plans did not cover birth control. Today, almost all plans, including Medicaid, cover prescription contraceptives.
CC BY: Nate Grigg

In a potential "birth control revolution," American women may gain free access to the morning-after pill under President Obama's health-care reform law. The catch: First the administration must decide whether contraception qualifies as preventive care. Public health officials say there's no question that family planning saves lives, but social conservatives says contraception shouldn't be covered. Commentators weigh in on the debate:

Of course, birth control should be covered: "It's crystal clear that family planning improves the health of women and the children they bear," say the editors of the San Jose Mercury News. You would think that social conservatives who oppose abortion would support this idea: After all, "There's no more effective way to prevent [abortion] than making birth control readily available."
"Of course federal health care must cover birth control"

But pregnancy is not a disease: Unlike immunizations, pap smears, mammograms, or colonoscopies, says Wesley J. Smith at First Things, birth control doesn't "prevent illnesses." In fact, it "prevents a normal, healthy condition." Let insurers cover it if they choose, but forcing them to do it wastes money, and turns women's health into a political football.
"Obamacare: The government shouldn't order insurance companies to provide free contraceptives"

Free contraception is good for everyone: This is a fight conservatives are "bound to lose," says Cynthia Tucker in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Our "strangely prudish" aversion to free contraceptives is the reason our rate of unplanned births is higher than in western Europe — and Americans realize it. "One of the best things that could happen for health care, family planning, and family dysfunction is widely available contraception."
"Health care reform could make birth control pills free"

 

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