Watching the testimony on religious liberty yesterday in the House Oversight Committee (I especially appreciated the testimony of my Synod’s President), and following Planned Parenthood’s Twitter feed at the same time, I have some questions. I don’t need anecdotes or uninformed opinions–so keep them. The only thing that I want to see is hard evidence one way or the other.
- What percentage of women use some form of contraception primarily for reasons other than preventing pregnancy? And what forms of birth control are they?
- How much, on average, does the Pill cost with and without insurance?
- How many insurance plans currently do not include coverage for the Pill? How many include coverage for other forms of contraception? What forms? Update: Here are the Guttmacher (research arm of PP, let it be said) numbers for insurance claims (as well as a distilled version of the below CDC report).
- How many people–actually–would the HHS Mandate affect? In other words, how necessary does the Administration really think this is? Update: Here’s a link to the CDC report that is often being cited or alluded to without attribution, which gives many of the statistics. According to Table 15, only around 3% stopped using contraception because of the cost, around 2% stopped because insurance did not cover it, and around 2% because it was too difficult to obtain. Also, notice that under Table 1ff., “contraception” includes NFP and other non-medicinal methods, and I think that’s been missed by the media citing a “99% of women and 98% of Roman Catholics use contraception” figure. Further, if I read Table 4 correctly, the number of women using contraception currently is around 62%, while the other numbers are for those who have ever used any form of contraception. That 62% is even itself misleading when nearly 25% of that is male or female sterilization. So the media numbers appear to me to be highly misleading.
- Who let Planned Parenthood and NARAL define contraception as “basic preventive health care”?
- And what ever happened to self-control? (That might take a dissertation.)
That’s probably a good start. Even if the answers are unobjectionable, you might want to read this before you take contraception. Further, none of this addresses the deeper point of religious freedom: even if most non-Roman Catholics do not find contraception to be a problem, do we really think that the intrusion into the fundamental religious beliefs of the largest church body in the country will end with them? Do we really think that contraception is the issue here, or that the government will not continue its massive growth and its interference with what churches and religious organizations do and how they do it? (By the way, I’ve got a couple nice bridges on the plains to sell, if anyone’s looking.) But I would like these questions answered, so we can machete the undergrowth enough to see the trees.
One thing that should be mentioned is the difference in how PP and its ilk define “abortion” from how sane people do. I saw more than once that the “morning after” pill does not induce abortions. I assume that PP says that because the fertilized egg has not yet attached to the uterine wall. But those who understand that once an egg is fertilized, a separate, unique human being has been formed, to which nothing will be added throughout the next nine months (the time in the womb will only develop what is already there), it is irrelevant whether or not that fertilized egg attaches: if a person does something (like take the morning after pill or other contraception) which can cause the lining of the uterus to thicken with the purpose of preventing pregnancy, a human life has been taken. If that contraception had not been taken, the fertilized egg would (all else being equal) attach to the uterus and the baby would develop normally. On this point, as on so many others, PP is simply being deceptive in its definitions.
But they are clear about one thing:
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) adopted recommendations for women’s preventive health care issued by the Institute of Medicine. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, drawing on these recommendations, requires new private health plans written on or after August 1, 2012 to cover contraceptive counseling and services and all FDA-approved methods without out-of-pocket costs to patients. However, existing plans are exempt from the requirement so long as no significant negative changes, such as cutting benefits or raising cost-sharing, are made to them; DHHS has said that most of these plans will likely lose this protected status within a few years. The agency has also proposed an exemption for some religious employers, similar to the exemption included in several state laws.
Additionally, federal law requires insurance coverage of contraceptives for federal employees and their dependents; it includes a limited but seldom used exception for religious insurers. In December 2000, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission made it clear that an employer’s failure to provide coverage of contraception, when it covers other prescription drugs and preventive care, is a violation of protections against sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act; those protections for employees’ benefits include no exemption for religious employers.
Can anyone point me to the facts on those questions [obviously, I’ve found some of them]? Without the answers, numbers and generalizations and “personal stories” are just being thrown around trying to sway the uninformed.