Saturday, June 29, 2013

Obama Offers Final "Compromise" On Free Birth Control For Women

A few months ago, the Obama administration issued a ruling that said insurance companies must offer and pay for all of the cost of contraceptives for women covered by their policies. The insurance companies didn't object to this rule, because that was cheaper for them to do than pay for a bunch of unwanted pregnancies. But some faith-based groups did object -- seeing an opportunity to try and embarrass the president (while denying free and easy access to contraceptives to their employees). They quickly claimed that the new rule violated their religious rights, since they opposed the use of birth control.

It was always a silly argument. None of these groups was going to have to pay a penny for the free contraceptives for their employees (since all of the cost was to be absorbed by the insurance companies). And none of these groups has the right to make health care choices for their employees, regardless of any religious views. Fortunately, the Obama administration has refused to back down.

But they have made some paperwork changes on the requirement in a final "compromise" offer. This final offer says if a group notifies its insurance carrier that they oppose birth control being included in their policies, then the insurance companies will provide those employees with a free additional policy that will pay for the birth control. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, said:

“Today’s announcement reinforces our commitment to respect the concerns of houses of worship and other non-profit religious organizations that object to contraceptive coverage, while helping to ensure that women get the care they need, regardless of where they work." 

This is an extremely reasonable effort by the Obama administration. It lets the ridiculous religious nuts save face, while still providing free and easy access to birth control for any of their employees who want it. But I'm sure some of those groups will still oppose it, since I think their opposition was more political (and misogynistic) than religious anyway.

I commend the Obama administration for this "compromise". It was the right thing to do (to not back down on this important issue). Misogynistic religious views should never be allowed to trump women's health. This was always a health issue -- not a religious issue.

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