The fight over health care is far from over, and neither is the fight over contraceptive coverage.
The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday upheld the president's Affordable Care Act (ACA), but the fights over health care insurance and the coverage of contraceptive services are far from over. Opponents are already gearing up for a quick vote to repeal "Obamacare" in the House of Representatives. In addition, yesterday's Supreme Court decision will require Congress at some point to make changes in the state Medicaid provisions of the ACA. These legislative fights will almost certainly reopen the Congressional debate over contraception. Opponents of family planning will try once again to restrict health insurance coverage of contraceptive services.
If you have any doubt about that, all you have to do is look at the footage of the protests outside the Supreme Court yesterday. Most of the "anti-Obamacare" protesters yesterday were carrying signs opposing abortion and contraceptive coverage. I was there. I saw it firsthand.
Make no mistake about it: the battle over the ACA has become an extension of the war on contraception and reproductive rights. Not deterred by yesterday's Supreme Court decision, opponents of the "contraception mandate" are still pursuing their claims that the national health care law is unconstitutional.
Opponents of abortion and family planning will also use any legislative fight over health care as an opportunity to limit contraceptive coverage. The upcoming vote on repeal of the ACA is likely to be a "clean" up-or-down vote on repeal, but whenever Congress gets around to fixing the state Medicaid provisions of the ACA, a fight will almost certainly erupt over contraceptive coverage, certainly as it applies to employees of religiously affiliated schools and hospitals.
Whatever Congress and the nation ultimately decide about America's health care system, eliminating co-pay requirements for contraceptive services makes sense. It not only makes reproductive health care more affordable for low-income women, it also reduces health care costs by helping to prevent unintended or unwanted pregnancies. Contraception is prevention. All women, including women who work for religiously-affiliated hospitals and schools, deserve full and adequate coverage of contraceptive services.
Americans should not let contraceptive coverage become a casualty in the fight over health care. With more budget cuts for family clinics serving low-income populations in this country, it's more important than ever that women have health insurance policies that cover contraceptive services.
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