Catholic Medical Association Criticizes IOM Recommendation on Mandating Contraceptive Coverage
On Tuesday, July 19, 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report they are marketing as “Greater use of preventive care could have a profound impact on the nation’s health. The IOM identifies which services are important to women’s health and well-being and should be covered under the Affordable Care Act.”
The pro-abortion/pro-birth control community is toasting this report and it will likely be used repeatedly as justification for their cause.
We at Catholic Advocate thought it was important to share the thoughts of the Catholic Medical Association on the report. At the end of their articulate assessment of the report, they call on the Secretary of Health and Human Services to reject this report. Unfortunately, past decisions by Kathleen Sabelius, the former Governor of Kansas and a Catholic, lead us to believe she will embrace this report.
The Catholic Medical Association released the following statement after the Institute of Medicine effectively recommended that insurance companies and plans be forced to subsidize “the full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods”:
The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) recommendation that “the full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods” be designated a “preventive care service for women” and thus covered by all insurance plans without any co-pay from patients under the terms of ObamaCare threatens substantial harm to the health of women and to the civil rights of millions of Americans. It is imperative that the Secretary of Health and Human Services reject this recommendation.
There are several reasons why the IOM Recommendation 5.5, contained in Clinical Preventive Services for Women Closing the Gaps (7/19/2011), is wrong in principle and could cause significant harms to women’s health and to the rights of all Americans forced to subsidize this “service.”
- Designating contraceptives as “preventive services” fails the tests of logic and sound science since “preventive services” prevent serious disease, dysfunction and/or injury which would require treatment to restore health or function. Fertility is a natural feature of human nature, and pregnancy is a natural human condition, even if not always planned or desired.
- Designating contraceptives as “preventive services” does not constitute good clinical medicine. An extensive body of evidence shows hormonal contraceptives pose substantial threats to women, including myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular accidents, depression, deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary emboli, cervical cancer, and liver cancer. The relationship between OC use and breast cancer—and in particular the disturbing connection between OC use and triple-negative breast cancer (for which OCs raise the risk by 2.5 to 4.2 times)—should cause caution and concern. Designating contraceptives as “preventive services” would give the false impression that these are safe and standard medications.
- Promoting contraceptives in order to reduce unplanned pregnancies has failed in the past and will fail in the future. Despite decades of such advocacy and millions, if not billions, of dollars spent in the effort, and despite the fact that 35 states mandate contraceptive coverage as a part of prescription drug coverage, the Guttmacher Institute still reports that nearly half of all pregnancies among American women are unintended and that 54% of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant.
- Mandating insurance coverage of contraceptives is not only a failed strategy, as noted above, it is also unfair and unethical public policy. Such a mandate will force people to subsidize specific interest groups and businesses, including Planned Parenthood, who would benefit from having contraceptive coverage mandated; it will force people to subsidize contraceptives and the behaviors they enable even if they have ethical objections, including providers who object to dispensing contraceptive services based on religious beliefs or moral convictions. This will be true not only for individuals forced to pay extra for health-insurance premiums, but also for institutions forced to violate their ethical convictions.
- Such ethical conflicts will be exacerbated intolerably by the improper designation of certain abortifacients as contraceptives— above all, HRA Pharma’s ulipristal acetate, known as “ella,” which was designated as an “emergency contraception” by the FDA despite the fact that it is essentially similar in chemical structure and modes of efficacy to the abortion drug RU-486. If the Secretary of HHS follows through on the IOM recommendation to mandate the “the full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods,” it will violate the letter and spirit of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the express terms and legislative history of which exclude abortion and abortifacients. Worse, it will force individuals and institutions to become complicit in the financing of abortion.
To protect the health of American women and the rights of all Americans, it is imperative that the Secretary of Health and Human Services reject IOM Recommendation 5.5.
Founded in 1932, the Catholic Medical Association is the largest association of Catholic physicians in North America. For more information, go to http://www.cathmed.org.