This has been a tumultuous week for the politics surrounding women and their reproductive choices. We support women’s right to reproductive health care as an overall good practice for women’s health. Providing women access to birth control should not be a political issue, though it seems to be. Contraception has proven health benefits both for women and their children. Controlling the frequency of pregnancies can prevent a range of complications that can endanger a woman’s health, including gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and placental problems, among others. Also, women who wait for a period of time after delivery to conceive again lower the risk of adverse perinatal outcomes, including low birth weight, pre-term birth, and small-for-size gestational age. Contraception means healthier mothers and families.
Ninety-eight percent of sexually active women in the United States, regardless of their religious beliefs, use contraception at some point in their lives. This includes Catholic women and women working in the Catholic institutions that are seeking an exemption from having to provide contraceptive services to employees. While we can respect that the Bishops and others who run these religious institutions have strong religious convictions, this shouldn’t be about the institution, it should be first and foremost focused on the health of the women they insure, who, by the way, pay a lot of out-of-pocket money for their own health care and deserve access to the same services everyone else receives. It seems the Obama Administration has arrived at a satisfactory compromise.
And since many women skip such preventive health care due to cost, it’s vital that we ensure that this contraceptive care be affordable. NCL supports women’s access to basic health care services, including access to birth control – and we support HHS’s determination that these services be available without a co-pay or deductible, regardless of where women work.