For full disclosure, I am a Catholic, I am a Democrat and I am a woman. I am also someone who if push came to shove can afford to pay over the counter for birth control.
But the false outcry this week over the need to cover birth control has made me raving mad. And I am shocked it has not enraged more women across this country, whether they are Democrats or Republicans.
Aside from the fact that 28 states already mandate the same form of coverage, including Mitt Romney's home state of Massachusetts and Newt Gingrich's home state of Georgia, this debate has put into question whether ensuring women have access to affordable healthcare should be a priority no matter where they work.
Birth control is not only for family planning; millions of women are prescribed birth control to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, to treat uterine fibroid tumors and anemia. A recent study by the National Cancer Institute reported that a woman's risk of getting ovarian cancer decreases by approximately 50% after using contraceptives for 5 years.
The fact is that the vast majority of middle class women in this country can not afford to spend hundreds of dollars a year on birth control. A recent Planned Parenthood study found that nearly 50% of women ages 18-36 have struggled to afford birth control.
The new guidelines could save an average woman up to $600 per year in healthcare costs. That is $600 to spend on a month of groceries for a family of four, a month of rent or three months of car payments.
And the financial benefit to the employers is indisputable as well. According to the National Women's Law Center, not providing women with contraceptive coverage would cost employers an estimated 15% to 17% more.
Those who are opposing the new guidelines, including the full slate of Republican candidates for president, are flat out rejecting the view of the majority women, including 77% of Catholic women who support birth control without co-pays.
These changes are a victory for women's health and women across the country should not only be rejoicing that an administration has finally stood up for women's health, but they should be outraged by the opposition to the basic right of affordable and accessible health care.
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