Is Birth Control Preventative Care?

As we move into 2011 and more pieces of this year’s health care reform bill start to take effect, an important discussion is happening. This month, discussions on preventative care for women are taking place that will help the government decide what should be covered at no cost to the patient. Among other things, contraceptives are going to be considered for coverage.

Access to affordable birth control is a serious issue across the United States today. Surveys done over the summer report that one in three women voters have struggled to afford prescription birth control at some point in their lives. That number skyrockets to over 50% in some categories, including women between 18 – 34, young Latina women, and young African American women.

Access to free birth control makes medical sense as it would help women plan their pregnancies, keeping both mom and baby healthy. Not being able to afford contraception invariably leads to inconsistent use. Having access to birth control could help women have their babies at a point in their life when they are prepared for the joy and the responsibility of parenthood.

Right now, it seems that much of this month’s debate will center on whether or not birth control can be defined as preventative medicine, as well as on moral and religious objections to any requirement to cover contraceptives. Until the issue is decided (and even after!), providers of low cost contraceptives like Maternal & Family Health Services will continue to fill the gaps and help men and women access birth control and confidential reproductive health services.

As a leader of reproductive health care in Pennsylvania, Maternal & Family Health Services is closely following these discussions and would like to hear your thoughts. Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!