Health

Jul 20, 2011 10:43 PM by Maddie Garrett

Medical Experts Recommend Free Birth Control

Women could soon have access to free birth control and other contraceptive methods after a recommendation by some of the top medical experts. While some organizations are applauding the idea, others oppose it.

Free birth control, cancer screenings and STD counseling are just a few of the eight preventative services the non-partisan Institute of Medicine (IOM) feels should come without co-pays for women. As part of the new healthcare overhaul, IOM was asked to examine women's health issues and report back on what it thought should be included as free, preventative services.

"Making birth control more accessible and affordable for women will increase the use, it will make sure that they're using it consistently and it will help them avoid unintended pregnancy," said Julie Mickelberry, Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood in Baton Rouge.

Studies show over half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended, and Mickelberry said the IOM's recommendation is a break through in women's healthcare.

"Women need access to this basic care to be able to plan their families, space their children and make decisions that are right for them and their families," explained Mickelberry.

But many organizations disagree, including many conservatives, religious groups and the Catholic Church.

"The Catholic Church will always condemn every method of contraception because it is intrinsically evil. That is not my argument, that is the argument of the Holy Catholic Church," said Brenda Desormeaux, who runs the Women's Center of Lafayette.

Desormeaux said contraception is already easily available, and making it free would only cause more problems in society and deteriorate morals in America.

"The contraceptive mentality has led us to accept not only contraception, but abortion, adultery, homosexuality, extra marital sex, pre-marital sex, teen pregnancies, co-habitation, sexually transmitted diseases," Desormeaux said.

Despite opposition from the Church and conservatives, Planned Parenthood and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists support the IOM's recommendations. Mickelberry said she doesn't view this as a moral issue, but one based on medical findings.

"I think that this recommendation is based on science and it's based on medical evidence that shows that these types of services help women and their families stay healthy," said Mickelberry.

Health and Human Services will make the final decision on the IOM's recommendations.

In addition to birth control and the Plan B pill, IOM recommends the following services also be added to the the federal government's list of preventive health services: HIV screening; support for breast- feeding mothers, including the cost of renting pumps; counseling about sexually transmitted infections; screening for domestic violence and at least one "well-woman" preventive care visit annually.

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