The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that insurers by 2013 must fully cover the full cost of birth control and other prevention services for women without co-pays.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius hailed the move as “historic”.
Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards called it “a tremendous stride forward for women’s health in this country.”
The U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) said in a July report that all government-approved birth control methods including the “morning-after pill,” should be included in the U.S. list of preventive health services.
The newly required coverage also includes free screenings for gestational diabetes, testing for human papillomavirus in women over 30, counseling for HIV and sexually transmitted infections, and screening for domestic violence.
For at least 50 years, religious objections to birth control have made the topic a hot-button social issue in America.
In 1965, a Supreme Court ruling ended an era when states could ban the use of contraceptives, arguing that such power violated “the right to marital privacy.”
Some women said the government’s mandate for full coverage of birth control is a welcome step. But Christian conservative groups have condemned the new guidelines.
On Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom,” Sandy Rios, the Family PAC Federal Vice President, said:
“We’re $14 trillion in debt and now we’re going to cover birth control, breast pumps, counseling for abuse? Are we going to do pedicures and manicures as well?”
Rios added: “Having a baby is not the worst thing. I think having multiple sex partners without any kind of restraint or responsibility is much more damning.”
To read the HHS guidelines, visit www.hrsa.gov/womensguidelines.