House Committee Allows Just One Women’s Health Advocate to Testify on Contraception Coverage
Center for Reproductive Rights Calls on Congressmen to Give Voices for Women’s Health and Rights an Equal Role
(PRESS RELEASE) The U.S. House of Representatives will finally hear from a women’s health expert today in its hearings on copay-free birth control coverage in the Affordable Care Act, but the conversation is still severely one-sided.While three of the four witnesses scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee are women—as opposed to the all-male panel at last week’s hearing led by Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)—only Dr. Linda Rosenstock of the UCLA School of Public Health will speak in favor of a new rule that would provide copay-free birth control coverage to millions of women across the U.S. Others scheduled to testify include Asma Uddin of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Jeanne Monahan of the Family Research Council, and Bishop William Lori of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops—who recently likened covering basic preventive health care for women to selling ham sandwiches at kosher delis. “One wonders whether this committee’s leadership is afraid that a full airing of the undeniable public health benefits of affordable contraception might make the rule requiring copay-free coverage even more popular than it already is,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Scientific evidence shows that broadened access to affordable contraception reduces unintended pregnancies by the millions and saves American taxpayers billions of dollars every year.“But the committee’s leadership clearly remains intent on drowning out voices for women’s health and rights with unfounded assertions about religious institutions’ authority to impose their beliefs even on those who disagree with them, and to refuse to provide critical health services required by law.”The Becket Fund, a representative of which will testify at today’s hearing, has filed preemptive court challenges to the revised rule recently announced by the Obama Administration providing employees at religiously-affiliated institutions with copay-free contraceptive coverage directly from their insurers rather than from the institutions themselves.“The Becket Fund’s arguments simply will not hold up in court,” Northup said. “The Obama Administration’s accommodation for religious groups that wish to refuse to pay for birth control coverage clearly comports with the Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This is one case where public health and the law share common ground and common sense.” The Center for Reproductive Rights recently posted a comprehensive reply to the recent contraception controversy, which takes a closer look at the arguments by opponents of the contraception requirement, unpacks the legal issues and public health debate, and responds to many erroneous assertions.