When it comes to the facts on birth control coverage for women, here’s what you need to know.
1. Americans Support Including Birth Control as Preventive Health Care
- Birth control use is nearly universal. Ninety-nine percent of all sexually experienced women and 98 percent of sexually experienced Catholic women have used it at some point in their lives
- Fifty-six percent of voters support the birth control coverage benefit, including 53 percent of Catholic voters, and 62 percent of Catholics who identify themselves as independents, according to a new Public Policy Polling Poll.
- Sixty-five percent of Millennials (young people between the ages of 18 and 29) believe that employer health care coverage should include contraception at no cost.
2. Access to Birth Control Improves the Health of Women and Their Families
There’s a reason birth control was included as preventive health care — a panel of doctors recommended it. The nonpartisan Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended that birth control be covered as women’s preventive care because it is fundamental to improving not only women’s health, but the health of their families as well. Medical research has demonstrated this fact for decades. Improved access to birth control is directly linked to declines in maternal and infant mortality.
3. Birth Control has had a profound and positive impact on women’s lives
According to a Guttmacher study, a majority of women said that birth control use had allowed them to take better care of themselves or their families (63 percent), support themselves financially (56 percent), complete their education (51 percent), or keep or get a job (50 percent).
4. Women Struggle with the Cost of Birth Control
This is not just a health issue, it’s an economic issue. A 2010 survey found that more than a third of female voters have struggled to afford prescription birth control at some point in their lives, and as a result, used birth control inconsistently. This isn’t surprising considering co-pays for birth control pills typically range between $15 and $50 per month. That adds up to over $600 per year. Other methods, such as IUDs, can cost several hundred dollars, even with health insurance.
5. Any Expansion of the Refusal Provision Could Deny Millions of Women Access to Birth Control
Taking this benefit away would affect Catholics and non-Catholics. Nearly 800,000 people who receive benefits through Catholic hospitals would lose them. In fact, the Catholic-affiliated system is so large, one in six Americans gets care there. Not to mention the approximately two million students and workers who attend universities that have a religious affiliation — where 43 percent of students at Catholic universities and colleges are not even Catholic. Altogether this would add up to millions of hardworking Americans losing access to this critical benefit that finally makes an essential health care service affordable.
6. Failing to Provide Coverage is Sex Discrimination
Prescription contraceptives are used exclusively by women. Failure to provide coverage for prescription contraceptive drugs and devices in health plans that otherwise cover prescription drugs violates the Civil Rights Act. Because it singles out women and treats medication needed for a pregnancy-related condition less favorably, it constitutes discrimination on the basis of sex.