Take Action: Don’t Let the Catholic Church Deny Birth Control Coverage to Millions

In August, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a ruling requiring all insurers to cover contraception without a co-pay starting next year. Good news for women, right? So it’s no surprise that those who have been pushing woman-unfriendly reproductive policy–namely the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops–are lobbying for exemptions. They want leeway not only to refuse to cover birth control for Catholic Church employees (which they are already free to do), but also to allow religiously-affiliated hospitals, charitable organizations, elementary schools, secondary schools, colleges and universities to refuse to cover birth control at no cost in their students and employee insurance plans.

One of the things that really galls about this–aside of course from the absurdity of denying women the right to make their own reproductive decisions–is that birth control is not just a contraceptive: The drug is used to treat a variety of conditions, from acne to cramps to migraines. In fact, just this week the Guttmacher Institute released a new report showing that women take the pill for a number of reasons not related to sex:

The study—based on U.S government data from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG)—revealed that after pregnancy prevention (86%), the most common reasons women use the pill include reducing cramps or menstrual pain (31%); menstrual regulation, which for some women may help prevent migraines and other painful “side effects” of menstruation (28%); treatment of acne (14%); and treatment of endometriosis (4%). Additionally, it found that some 762,000 women who have never had sex use the pill, and they do so almost exclusively (99%) for noncontraceptive reasons.

So not only does the Catholic Church want to control women’s sex lives and reproduction, but they also want to make sure we continue to suffer from treatable pain and discomfort. I suppose in the minds of Catholic leaders, we just wouldn’t be women without that serpent biting at our heels. Catholic women, however, don’t seem to  agree: 77 percent of those surveyed support birth control with no copay.

Let’s not take this lying down: Please tell President Barack Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius not to give in to demands from the Conference of Catholic Bishops that would deny no-copay birth control coverage to millions of women.

Photo from Flickr user Starbooze under Creative Commons 2.0.


  1. The Catholic church has no interest in “controlling women’s sex lives”. But, rather teaches that it is immoral to be a slut and that sexual relations should be treated as sacred. Not as women’s lib issues.

    Men think of women as sex objects due to the mindset of the writer of this article.

    • To Maria I think you got it all wrong I am a catholic
      and I have endometriosis for 15 years I almost bleed to
      death from the heavy bleeding I tried to not use birth
      control(because the church doesnt approve) however
      after a few time in the hospital needing a few
      blood transfusions I decide to get a iud .. Now I
      bleed normally. There are many teenagers/woman who have
      a hard time with cramps so they take those pills to ease
      the pain. So although I am faithful to my church I feel
      that they need to be more open and understanding to other
      issues. If God really cared about us he /she would
      not want us to suffer.

      • While using the pill or an IUD, complications and risks increase for certain types of cancer (although it helps lower for other types), but using these types of birth control can cause abortions, sometimes unknown to the woman, other times, it totally freaks out a woman to “miscarry” because they didn’t even know they were pregnant. DEATH is even a side effect, and some how this is supposed to be freeing? To down our reproductive systems with chemicals? Sounds like chemical induced slavery to me. Smarten up, women!!! Learn how your bodies function–the Church isn’t trying to suppress anything! She’s only trying to teach women (and men) how to treat the human body with dignity and respect. Don’t suppress the body’s normal funcitons–learn how to work with it, learn how to respect it, and you’ll be amazed at how much you didn’t know about yourself. The pill can mask symptoms of endometritis and other diseases. Unmasking these problems can lead to real treatment, real solutions, not the band-aid approach that the pill takes. The pill ALWAYS comes with side effects–there are other ways to managing women’s health, putting the power BACK into the woman’s hands: http://www.creightonmodel.com. If the pill really was FOR women, working positively, then women should just as equally be able to become pregnant on it (which, obviously, it has that little side effect of hindering ovulation). It’s just naive to say you can take fake hormones (natural ones are available, but I don’t see Obama fighting to make insurance companies cover the cost of those–NO! ill side effects with natural progesterone, but hey, if you actually treat the disease, then the drug companies won’t make the billions they are). Find out how your body really functions, and join the brilliant 2 percent of Catholic couples who have figured out the truth. There is a learning curve in the beginning, but once you have that knowledge under your belt, it becomes no more difficult than remembering to pop a pill.

    • I’m a man and I agree with you. I do not think of women as “sex objects” but most do. The Catholic Church has it right about reproduction and society has it wrong. Right before I stumbled on this web site, I was thinking to myself, that America won against Hitler, during WWII, but he won the ideological battle for people’s minds.

  2. I am a man and, respectfully, I can say your comment is not accurate. Not all men think as you say.

    On the other hand, historic and current evidence show that not only the catholic church but many other religions, coupled with conservative governments they support, focus on controlling women’s sex, professional, economic, social lives…

    Simply, check today’s news in your country. See how Republicans ACTUALLY want to cut all funding for essential family planning… then, ask yourself who is backing this agenda up… Where this ideology comes from, neglecting mainstream scientific evidence?

    • Currently, almost no insurance companies will cover the costs for natural family planning (there is very little involved, but they won’t even cover that). Natural progesterone supplements are not covered (which are NOT cheap), and neither are specialized doctors for women’s healthcare who are trained to perform procedures that have better success rates for curing and managing illnesses over the pill. HOWEVER, the government is suppressing women, and all of those “liberal agenda” narrow minded people who aren’t supporting women in natural family planning CHOICES. Instead, women who are successfully using NFP (and I’m NOT talking rhythm method–that is SOO stone age, please, don’t even bring it up!!) are being bullied by insurance companies and doctors to use methods against their religious beliefs, against their preferences and choices. I’m NOT a republican, by the way, but I’m all for cutting funding to organizations and medical treatments that HURT women and further their pain and suffering. I believe that is what the Republicans are seeking to do.

  3. Maria, let’s say I agree that it’s “immoral to be a slut.” Ok, fine. Then what about a woman’s sex life, between her and her husband, in a church-bless, monogamous marriage? Even a married woman, who is a devout Catholic, should be allowed to decide how many children she will have in that marriage. I don’t know about you, but I believe sex is an incredibly important factor in making a relationship strong, happy, and loving. Without birth control, the choice is to have an unhappy, sexless marriage, in order to keep the number of children down, or to pop out 10 kids and never again know what it’s like *not* to be pregnant.

  4. Very interesting article. This is such an important issue, as many young girls (becoming young women), may feel that they have no choice to decide whether or not/how to protect themselves when it comes to sex. Shelby Knox is a strong advocate for educating young girls on sex education, and you can gain more knowledge on her and the importance of her quest at the blog that I am part of- WTF! (We’re the Future), where we promote social justice. http://wtfcsusm.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/shelby-k

  5. maria – has it right –

    galileo – “essential family planning”

    aka abortion agenda, no thanks

    sam – “Even a married woman, who is a devout Catholic, should be allowed to decide how many children she will have in that marriage.”

    Married Catholics decide to be open to the children god grants them; the number may be many, or it may be none; No contraception, no IVF; NFP is an option for spacing children

    michaella – why not advocate chastity instead; http://chastity.com/

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