Editorial: Contraception compromise allows full coverage, regardless of employer

Editorial Board

After President Barack Obama’s recent decision requiring religious-affiliated organizations to provide contraceptive coverage for their employees, many of the more conservative religious groups, and in particular, the Catholic Church began to raise voices of protest against the move. Friday heralded a compromise by Washington to placate religious groups while ensuring that women in America were still provided with necessary contraceptive services.

The previous measure required the religious-affiliated institutions to cover the contraception themselves, while the new compromise negates this and instead mandates that insurers be required to offer the coverage.

In the heart of the policy lies in a desire by the Obama administration to ensure that women across America have access to affordable preventative measures for their health needs, but moves to offer women working at religious-affiliated institutions the same coverage as their secular counterparts. This has been met with backlash and a public relations nightmare for the president.

Many on the conservative side of the issue maintain that the administration’s measures are still trampling religious freedoms of organizations like Catholic hospitals or religious universities. Others wish Obama had stayed strong in his original mandate, and view the compromise as a sign of weakness on his part.

The important thing to remember in the contraception snafu is that as it stands, women across the nation will be able to access effective and affordable methods of contraception. While politicians like Rick Santorum claim the policy was “not about contraception. It’s about government control of our lives,” the fact remains that for many women, working to avoid pregnancy can be a costly affair, especially if you are already struggling financially, as many are in the current economy.

It’s estimated that the most common methods of hormonal contraception for women can cost anywhere from $160 to $600 a year, depending on the individual’s insurance. Other methods such as IUDs, diaphragms or condoms cover a wide range of prices as well, but the most effective methods are often the most expensive. For women that are concerned about birth control failing, the most effective method is the best option, or a combination of methods, and the fees can multiply quickly.

While Obama’s compromise was likely a partial appeal to disgruntled constituents, it’s also important to note that it still allows women at religious-affiliated institutions to receive full coverage of their contraceptive services. It would have been better had this been a non-issue among religious and political groups, especially considering that a multitude of states already require insurance plans cover contraceptives without specific religious exemptions for universities or hospitals.