Board: Obamacare Should Force Coverage of Birth Control, Abortion Drugs

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 19, 2011   |   3:03PM   |   Washington, DC

A new report issued by the influential Institute of Medicine today recommended to the Obama administration that it force insurance companies to pay for birth control under the Obamacare government-run health care program.

The recommendation could have the Obama administration requiring insurance programs to include birth control — such as the morning after pill or the ella drug that causes an abortion days after conception — in the section of drugs and services insurance plans must cover under “preventative care.” The companies will likely pass the added costs on to consumers, requiring them to pay for birth control and, in some instances, drug-induced abortions of unborn children in their earliest days.

The Health and Human Services Department commissioned the report from the Institute, which advises the federal government and shut out pro-life groups in meetings leading up to the recommendations. “They asked for the guidance on what the evidence and science says, so that’s what we’ve given,” said Christine Stencel, a spokeswoman for the Institute told the National Journal.

Jeanne Monahan, director of Family Research Council’s Center for Human Dignity, which covers pro-life, issues, panned the decision.

“The real issue is not about “birth control” as such but rather about specific contraceptives that can function as abortifacients, in particular, emergency contraceptives. This isn’t a matter of opinion or political ideology,” she explained. “The FDA approved label for Plan B suggests it can prevent implantation of an embryo. Moreover, the most recently approved EC, “ella”, is chemically similar to RU-486 and it may destroy an embryo after it is already implanted.”

“Additionally, this is a question of whether the government should mandate every health plan to cover these drugs free of cost. Whatever one’s position is on the issues of contraceptives, abortifacients, and such, it does not matter whether proponents of such drugs do not care about the effect on human embryos,” Monahan continued. “The point is that many Americans do care, and many religious health plans would care, and that they should not be forced to violate their conscience.  Non-discrimination laws are in effect for this very reason. The IOM recommendations will potentially require people who are not in favor of these drugs to cover and participate in something they find objectionable. You don’t have to agree with such objections, but at the same time people should not be forced to violate their consciences.”

But the IOM found that including the controversial drugs in preventative care is important, saying in the report:  “Women with unintended pregnancies are more likely to receive delayed or no prenatal care and to smoke, consume alcohol, be depressed, and experience domestic violence during pregnancy. Unintended pregnancy also increases the risk of babies being born preterm or at a low birth weight, both of which raise their chances of health and developmental problems.”

Nancy Keenan, president of the pro-abortion group NARAL, hailed the IOM recommendations, saying, “We are confident that the Obama administration will adopt the IOM’s science-based recommendation and make affordable contraception a reality for all women.”

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a pro-abortion member of the Senate, wrote the language requiring the examination of such coverage and, at the time, she refused to accept an amendment ensuring abortions and abortions drugs would not be included. According to the National Journal, she applauded the new statement.

Bill Saunders of Americans United for Life is also concerned about the recommendations:

PPACA requires all private health insurance plans to provide coverage of “preventive care for women,” not just those plans participating in the insurance exchanges that the law requires be established by 2014. These services must be covered without cost-sharing, meaning these services must be fully covered without a co-pay.  Significantly, this means that no American will be able to choose a health insurance plan that does not cover what is determined to be “preventive care for women.”

Instead of defining “preventive care” in the statute, Congress left this determination to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  Tasked with advising HHS, the IOM serves an important role in determining what constitutes “preventive care for women.”

At the IOM’s three public meetings on “preventive care,” groups that were invited to present to IOM on “women’s issues” nearly all took a public stance in favor of abortion.  The list included Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, who stands to gain financially if abortion and abortion-inducing drugs are included in this mandate.  This huge conflict of interest was not disclosed at the meeting.

At the IOM meetings, nearly every official presenter urged that all FDA approved contraceptives be included in the preventive care mandate.  Such a definition would require coverage for so-called emergency contraceptives, including ella, which can kill a human embryo even after implantation.  Thus, if “contraception” is included in the definition of “preventive care,” Americans will be forced to subsidize abortion-causing drugs with their insurance premiums.  And that is precisely what we expect the IOM will announce on Wednesday.

Pro-life groups may call on members of Congress to lobby the Obama administration to reject the recommendations.