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Healthcare reform may mean free birth control

by nickj on November 2, 2010

Women in the U.S. may be entitled to receive free birth control if a panel decides to include it into President Obama's recently passed healthcare bill. The discussion is likely to incite a clash over moral values and health law as experts decide whether or not birth control should be considered part of preventative care.

A panel of experts convened by the Institute of Medicine will meet this month to advise the government in deciding which services will be offered to women as part of the bill. Services offered to women – at no cost – may include maternity care, pelvic exams and contraception, according to US News.

Democrat Senator Barbara Mikulski , who wrote the women's health amendment, said the bill intended to include family planning.

Conservative groups and religious leaders are expectantly voicing their opposition of the move, saying pregnancy is a healthy condition and a lifestyle choice, not an illness that should be covered. "We think there are other ways to avoid having children than by ingesting chemicals paid for by health insurance," John Haas president of National Catholic Bioethics Center told CBS News.

However, others support the inclusion of birth control citing health advantages and saving taxpayer money. "Contraception rivals immunization in dollars saved for every dollar invested. Spacing out children allows for optimal pregnancies and optimal child rearing. Contraception is a prototype of preventive medicine, " Dr David Grimes, obstetrician-gynecologist, told the news source.

Publicly funded contraception will save taxpayers $4 for every $1 spent by preventing nearly 2 million pregnancies and 810,000 abortions every year, according to a report from the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive research organization.

Others hope that free birth control will help reduce teen pregnancy rates. Currently, three of every 10 American girls become pregnant by the age of 20, according to LiveScience.com.

Mercury news reported that nearly three in four Americans believe birth control should be covered by health insurance. According to US News, women spend as much as $50 a month for hormonal contraception.

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