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Catholics Support IOM’s Recommendations on Birth Control Coverage under Affordable Care Act

July 20, 2011

The Institute of Medicine’s call to include comprehensive family planning services as a preventive benefit for women’s health under the Affordable Care Act is a step in the right direction. This means that, if the federal government agrees with the proposal, these services will be provided at no extra cost to women.

Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, supported the IOM’s recommendations on birth control. “While the bishops don’t like people to know this, Catholics use family planning at the same rate as do other women in the US. In fact, 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women have used a method of contraception that is banned by the Vatican. In a poll we did around the Affordable Care Act, more than 60 percent of Catholics supported health insurance coverage—whether it is private or government insurance—for family planning.

“In addition, the provision and use of family planning fits very well into the Catholic social justice model—especially when it is provided to underserved communities who may not be able to afford family planning services at all. Finally, Catholics have a responsibility to listen to our consciences in matters of moral decision-making, and to respect other people’s right to do the same. Removing unnecessary obstacles, as this report recommends, means that more women will have the means to follow their own consciences in deciding whether and when to have children.

“At a time when many people are correctly demanding more evidence of fiscal responsibility from our government, it makes economic sense to provide women and families with the tools to prevent unplanned pregnancies. Family planning saves federal and state safety net programs millions of dollars every year. Providing access to affordable preventive health services is a vital step in the right direction. We trust that when the Department of Health and Human Services reviews the IOM report, it will make the right decision and ensure that family planning—including counseling, medications and other health services—is provided free to all beneficiaries whether they are covered by public, private, subsidized or employer-based health plans.”