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Why We Are Fighting for the Birth Control Benefit | Commentary

“I’ve been on birth control pills since I was 17, when I started developing ovarian cysts. I now have endometriosis. I wish people understood that for some people, these pills are vital whether they are sexually active or not. Birth control pills may be preventing me from having surgery. Even with insurance I was paying about $400 a year. I also have other health problems and doctors to deal with. When I was surprised by my pharmacist and told I was suddenly paying $0, I was thrilled! It’s nice to get a break.”

Already, 27 million women nationally are able to get the same break, and millions more will join them as they sign on to new health care policies.

Those who want to deny women this basic health care want to turn back the clock on women’s ability to manage their personal and professional lives. In a brief filed in support of the corporations asking the Supreme Court to be able to refuse to provide insurance coverage for birth control, the Beverly LaHaye Institute asserted that women with access to birth control may become unable to “enter into and maintain desired marital relationships.” These views of birth control are un-tethered to medical science and demeaning to women.

These opponents hide behind a smokescreen of religious liberty. Don’t be fooled. Churches and other houses of worship were always exempt from having to provide this coverage.

As for the two for-profit corporations challenging the birth control benefit before the Supreme Court, they are not religious institutions. They are for-profit companies. And there is no threat to the owners’ personal religious beliefs such that they have the right to block health care access for their employees.

Every woman should be able to make her own decision about what birth control method is right for her in consultation with her doctor — not her congressman or her boss. That this obvious point is even up for debate is appalling, and we will never back down in our fight to ensure women’s access to basic health care.

Dana E. Singiser is vice president of public policy and government affairs for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

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