Obama’s New Birth Control Position: Good Policy, Good Politics

Today the Obama administration made clear its commitment to public health and announced an accommodation to the birth control mandate that allows women to get contraceptive coverage directly through their insurance plans at no cost to them while certain religious employers retain the ability to “object” to birth control and purchase plans that do not provide coverage.

Here’s how it will work. Insurers will create policies that do not include contraceptive coverage for religious organizations that object. That same insurance company must then simultaneously offer contraceptive coverage to all employees directly, and can not charge an additional premium or fee for that coverage. These will not be riders, that is, the contraception remains in the insurance benefits provided. This means all women get free contraceptive coverage.

Administration officials emphasized that their rule requires insurance companies, not religious institutions to “reach out directly and offer her contraceptive care free of charge. The religious institutions will not have to pay for it.” Additionally, women will not have to opt in or opt out of coverage because contraceptive care will be part of the basic package of benefits offered to everyone. That right there is the non-discrimination in services mandate of the Affordable Care Act and it is not going away.

In fact, the accommodation is a better rule than what administration officials had earlier considered. “We are actually more comfortable having the insurance industry offer and market this to women than religious institutions,” said the White House official because they “understand how contraception works” to prevent unintended pregnancy and reduce health care costs. “This makes sense financially.”

It’s also a good solution for insurance companies. Offering contraception is cost-neutral. Insurance companies understand there are tremendous cost benefits in spacing pregnancies and limiting unintended pregnancies, not to mention other health benefits of contraception.

The rule will be applied to all but the original institutions that were exempted. Exempted institutions are those for which religious inculcation is their primary purpose, so churches. Exemption institutions will not be expanded to include hospitals and social services organizations meaning women who happens to work at a hospital or some other organization that services people of all faiths in work that is not principally about religious inculcation will retain access to contraceptive coverage at no additional cost.

And it will absolutely not, according to White House officials, exempt private employers, an important distinction since the Bishops have made it clear their goal is eliminating all contraceptive coverage in health reform entirely.

Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood Federation of America applauded the move as did Sister Carol Keehan of the Catholic Health Association and NARAL. No word yet from the Bishops.

Not only is this good public health policy, the Obama administration made a very smart move politically. They offered a pragmatic resolution to a manufactured crisis by the Bishops. Predictably, the hard right came out in loud support of the Bishops and started campaigning against birth control. They couldn’t help themselves.

And it gets better. The Bishops won’t be satisfied and Republicans have already doubled down meaning they have to either break with the Bishops and drop the issue or they need to continue to campaign against contraception.

Your move, GOP.


Related Stories:

Bishops Want Businesses Exempt From Birth Control Coverage

The War On The Pill And One Way We Fight Back


Photo from nateOne via flickr.


Gwendolyn no-mail
Gwendolyn Krupa4 years ago

Another smart move from a smart president! Thanks.

Dr Clue
Dr Clue4 years ago

(@Nancy L.)[I've always been responsible enough to pay for my own needs and not rely on the government.]

I commend you on being being both fortunate enough and responsible enough to pay for your own needs.

Now , what are you going to do when the babies of those not so fortunate come to be?

Nancy L.
Nancy L.4 years ago

I've always been responsible enough to pay for my own needs and not rely on the government.

Sandy Erickson
Sandy Erickson4 years ago

Obama care sucks!

Bill Reese
Bill Reese4 years ago

No one is against contraception, and it is the cost of government paid abortions that most people disagree with. However, I still disagree with most abortions with the standard exceptions.
As to the Catholic Church, it is insane that anyone has to stay in a marriage that is abusive. It is insane that a daughter or son would stand by and not help the mother out of that situation.

If we think life is difficult today, just let the Sharia Law continue to get a foot hold in America. A woman can be killed just because she was raped, or wants a divorce. The Islamic law is stupid and so are those that remain calling themselves Muslims and wanting to live in a force religion.

All of this Contraception, Abortion is a smoke screen so we are not talking about the failed policies of the administration after 4 years and spending more money than all the presidents from Washington to Clinton we still are close to double digit unemployment. The White House has been more interested in Social engineering and making friends with our enemies and enemies of our friends than about Jobs for America.

lucille bostwick
lucille b.4 years ago

Just another topic in paradise! I was raised in the Catholic faith all my life. My mother was an abused wife until she died from cancer at the age of 50. She wanted to divorce my father and looked to the Catholic church for support in her decision. Unfortunately, she was told if she divorced him she was no longer welcomed in her parish. Because she believed so strongly in Catholic values she continued to be beating by my father until she died. The reason I'm telling my story is because I think the church needs to stop telling woman what is right and what is wrong. Every woman who wants to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy should do so no matter what the church said. How many more children are going to have babies? And don't know how or are capable of taking care of them? Most will have to go on welfare because they are not old enough to work. Will the Catholic church financially support them? I don't think so! What about the priest who are molesting our sons? And the church covering it up. SHAME ON THEM! I think all women have the right to make their own choices and the Catholic church should mind their own business. Stop our priest from destroying another little boy's life. That's what they should be fighting for. Thank you President for fighting for all women on this one.

Bill Reese
Bill Reese4 years ago

Please Gentlmen enlighten me on this comment that was made earlier, "leave those children and their parents to die in the street with no food or heath care so as to "protect the child". Where did this fact come from or is it not a fact? Where are the statistics to back that statement up. I searched the internet, but do not find anything that even remotely covers that statement. Was it just made up to make someones idea sound good?

Myron Scott
Myron Scott4 years ago

Bill R, what the f--- are you talking about. The birth control mandate is NOT an abortion clause.

Dr Clue
Dr Clue4 years ago

(@Bill R.) Either you have an inability to read my posts , or you simply thrive on misrepresenting them. I'll look to the more positive possibility that you have a disability.

Myron Scott
Myron Scott4 years ago

Bill, what you did was a Mitzvah, but I think you're really unfair to Dr. C. I rather think he is a voice crying in the wilderness, if you will follow my meaning, and I think that adoption cannot solve the problems of unwanted pregnancy and overpopulation. I think the Church needs to let women find their own way in these matters, and men and the Church and political demagogues need to get out of their way.

By the way, I also think the Catholic doctrine that unbaptized children are condemned to purgatory is patriarchal nonsense and portrays a very - to borrow your language - hateful image of God.