Access to Contraception Is Every Woman’s Right

You’d have to be living under a rock to have missed the recent political and culture debates about contraceptive access and coverage. Having practiced ob-gyn since the early 1970s, I can tell you that contraception is a fundamental part of women’s health care, just as important as Pap screening, prenatal care, and breast exams. ACOG has long advocated for the right of women to obtain contraception, expanded access to and coverage of it, and a doctor’s ability to prescribe contraception to his or her patients.

More than 80% of reproductive-age women will use contraception for a wide variety of reasons, not just for birth control. Hormonal contraceptives can help with gynecologic problems such as endometriosis, menstrual cycle irregularities, fibroids, and premenstrual syndrome. They also treat acne, improve bone density, help with perimenopausal symptoms, and reduce the risk of certain cancers.

Of course, many women use contraception to avoid pregnancy. However, not enough do, because roughly half of the pregnancies in the US are unintended. Unplanned pregnancies often cause undue strain on women, their families, and society. Lack of access and affordability of contraception deprives a woman of her right to plan a pregnancy at a time that makes most sense for her. Clearly, any campaign to reduce unintended pregnancy must be coupled with a comprehensive program of sex education and easily accessible options for contraceptive health.

I take pride in the fact that my patients turn to me for advice and guidance about medical issues, healthy lifestyle, screenings, immunizations, and their contraceptive needs. I trust that women know what’s best for their lives and their bodies. I also know that contraception is a basic necessity used to protect and improve women’s health. And I am not alone. I stand with ACOG in putting women first. I fully support the right of all women to unimpeded contraceptive access.

9 thoughts on “Access to Contraception Is Every Woman’s Right

  1. I would like to respond to Cari’s comment that “the burdens should fall on the woman because it is her body and she is the one at risk for pregnancy and has the consequences of it.” Last I heard a woman could not get pregnant alone. Usually, there is someone else involved so the burden should fall on ALL parties involved (democrats and republicans, men and women). Providing access to contraception is a way to allow EVERYONE to take responsibility for reproductive health. By not making contraceptive access equal for all women despite ethnicity, socioeconomic status, employer history, etc, you create different classes of women (those who can afford the burden Cari talks about and those who cannot.) If you want to look at is from a cost perspective nationally, for every 1 dollar spend on contraception, we save $3.74 in Medicaid costs! Therefore, access to contraception is not only a right but is fiscally responsible!

  2. Thank you for the support you give women. The comment lilifrankyn left is dead on. Until fathers step up fully to their responsibility as fathers, women should have every right to make the decision to use contraceptives for themselves. It is a decision between a woman and her doctor and no one else. If insurers are not going to cover contraceptives for women, they should not cover Viagra or testosterone for men either. Contraceptives contain hormones that help more women than they hurt. I know. I’ve been there. My daughter has been there. I took contraceptives to help with hormonal imbalances as does my daughter. The government is right to make every insurance company, including those who self-insure, provide this coverage.

  3. ” Lack of access and affordability of contraception deprives a woman of her right to plan a pregnancy at a time that makes most sense for her.” Sorry, this statement doesn’t work for me. If a woman can afford costly health insurance premiums which would cover the contraceptive costs, she certainly can afford birth control with no health insurance coverage. Can you please back up statement that “half the pregnancies in the US are unintended” with some data? Do you REALLY think that if contraceptives were covered by health insurance that this number would decrease? What you are saying is that half of the pregnancies in the US are intended, but if health insurance covered the cost of contraceptives this number would decrease. I don’t buy that. The burdens should fall on the woman because it is her body and she is the one at risk for pregnancy and has the consequences of it.

  4. I would be all in favor of what the Republicans are saying (that women should cover their own reproductive health care costs) if they would also pass laws to provide that 1) the fathers of these “unintended children” had their salaries garnished for all medical expenses associated with the pregnancy and birth and 2) to split 50% by 50% with the mother all expenses associated with that child until they were 21 and 3) over the age of 21 to split the costs of their college education and associated living expenses 50% / 50% and 4) if these men were unable to be located, or moved to a foreign country, the government that refused to help these women with their contraceptive expenses, stepped in paid when the fathers failed to. Why should all these burdens fall on women?

  5. In asking insurers of entities sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church, like hospitals and universities, to cover contraceptives, the government is not trying to impact church doctrine but rather to ensure that women who work in those places, many of whom are not Catholic, have the same heath coverages as other employees receive. The only complicating factor of this issue is self-insured entities in which the church itself acts as the insurer. Perhaps that is no longer practical on several levels. As another example: what if the organization you worked for was sponsored by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and blood transfusions were not permitted in your policy. Is that okay? The truth is that in opening hospitals and universities, the church has entered into the public sphere as an employer and must play by the same rules as everyone. The access to health care I receive should not be determined by the American Catholic Bishops but is between my physician and me.

  6. While I agree that all women should have access to contraception, I do not agree that the government should get involved in church doctrine. I prescribe OCPs for various different reasons with a woman’s financial situation in mind all the time. There are plenty of ways around uncovered prescriptions that do not have to allow big brother to regulate our churches. After all, one of the founding principals of our great nation is separation of church FROM state.

  7. I think at times we incorrectly use the word rights. Just because it would be an apprpriate thing to do does not make a “right”. It would be appropriate for everyone to have 2 pairs of shoes but that does not make it my “right” to have 2 pairs of shoes and if I don’t it is up to someone else to make sure that I have them. I do believe that it is appropriate for health insurance to cover some means of birth control but I do not believe it is my “right.”

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