Female students who have health insurance plans can look forward to free access to reproductive care and birth control. New insurance plans, beginning Aug. 1, 2012 will be covered by new regulations by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). At the beginning of this month, the HHS released new rules requiring U.S. health insurance companies to cover women’s birth control without any co-pay costs.
This landmark move is a bright spot in the Obama administration’s efforts to reform America’s health care system. The rules provide free access to “the pill,” as well as free screenings for HPV and counseling for HIV patients. The time has come for equal access to birth control.
Women have just as much right to sexual activity as men, who can often receive free condoms at places such as Planned Parenthood and USF’s Wellness Center, and never should have been financially discriminated against in the first place.
The HHS’ new rules will be another step in counteracting the surge in unwanted pregnancies, especially among teenagers. The Guttmacher Institute released a large-scale study of teenage pregnancy in the U.S. in 2010, examining rates in 2006. The study showed an increase in teenage birthrates for the first time since 1991. Births were up by 4 percent and abortions were up by 1 percent, reversing a downward trend.
Not everyone was happy about HHS’ new regulations. Pro-life, conservative and religious groups such as the American Life League (ALL), Fox News and the Catholic Health Association objected to the new rules. The legal mandate more or less denies doctors, pharmacists, hospital personnel the choice to withhold access to birth control on moral grounds.
Sandy Rios, president of Family-PAC Federal, claimed in a Fox News debate that the regulations interfere with markets and legitimizes women who should “stop having irresponsible sex,” which is seemingly any sex that is not explicitly in the name of procreation.
Fox News commentator Greg Gutfeld even speculated that it was a conspiracy where “the left has found a way to eradicate the poor.” After laughing at the absurdity of the statement, you realize the goal of the new rules is reduce poverty, not eliminate poor people.
If women have access to birth control, they can decide to have a child when they can afford to raise it in a good home. For this reason, having control over reproductive decisions is crucial for women and families trying to avoid bringing a life into the world they cannot afford.
The strong opposition to the regulations is based on people who are afraid of increased abortion. It would be impossible to convince someone of the virtues of the HHS’s new regulations who believes preventing conception entirely is morally wrong. Yet, it is baffling that those who oppose only abortions would take offense. After all, nothing reduces abortions more than reducing unwanted conceptions.