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Response to Washington Post Criticism of Contraceptive Coverage

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In today's Washington Post, E.J. Dionne criticizes the Obama administration's decision to ensure that nearly all women can get insurance coverage for contraception.

Mr. Dionne writes that "the bishops and the Catholic right invented the idea that the health law covers abortion," yet we're supposed to accept at face value this same group's claim that contraception is controversial among Catholics.

Contraception coverage is not controversial. Ninety-nine percent of women use contraception during their lifetimes, including 98 percent of Catholic women. The new rule will mean that millions of women who work as nurses, custodians, professors, and administrative staff at colleges and hospitals that currently oppose birth control will have the same health-care options as employees at other corporations.

In short, it means these women won't have to ask their boss for permission to get a plan that pays for birth control. A story in today's New York Times illustrates what could happen when institutions are allowed to block coverage of contraception:

One recent Georgetown law graduate, who asked not to be identified for reasons of medical privacy, said she had polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition for which her doctor prescribed birth control pills. She is gay and had no other reason to take the pills. Georgetown does not cover birth control for students, so she made sure her doctor noted the diagnosis on her prescription. Even so, coverage was denied several times. She finally gave up and paid out of pocket, more than $100 a month. After a few months she could no longer afford the pills. Within months she developed a large ovarian cyst that had to be removed surgically -- along with her ovary.

"If I want children, I'll need a fertility specialist because I have only one working ovary," she said.

The woman in this story needed contraception for non-reproductive reasons. Is that something the company she works for or her boss should know? What about her ability to make personal, private medical decisions with her doctor?

What's clear is that the Obama administration's decision allows women of all faiths and backgrounds to make decisions--like using contraception--that are best for them and their families.

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