In a move celebrated by Planned Parenthood, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, led by former Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius, has directed that health insurance policies must provide coverage for birth control and sterilization. Under the new policy, insurers will not be allowed to charge co-pays, co-insurance charges, or deductibles for these “preventive health services,” meaning that, as put by the National Catholic Bioethics Center, “every insured, insurer, employer, and policy implementer included under the Health Care Reform mandates would be coerced into cooperating through insurance premiums and tax dollars, or through actualizing policy mandates in these state-driven and ideologically based violations of a true understanding of human reproduction.”
Among the mandatory covered drugs is “Ella,” which, though classified by the Administration as a contraceptive, is widely believed to have the capacity to act as an abortifacient by preventing a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.
The Administration’s action violates the conscience rights of Catholics and other who do not wish to be complicit in contraception and particularly abortion. As explained by Helen Alvare, “the government has told Catholic employers and health-care and social-services providers that they have to cease serving non-Catholics in order to claim a conscience exemption.” This disregard for Americans’ conscience rights will have devastating consequences for the Catholic Church’s ability to provide health care to its employees and to provide services to the poor and needy.
Jeffrey Anderson describes how “under Sebelius’s decree, anyone with cancer, a heart ailment, or a major injury will have to pay copays and deductibles, but anyone who wants to go on the pill or rent breastfeeding equipment won’t incur any personal cost — and nobody will be free to decide otherwise. In other words, certain forms of voluntary or elective care (the type of care that a lot of health insurance might well be expected not to cover at all, and once didn’t) will now be granted a status more favorable than is accorded serious medical conditions. Sebelius has turned things on their head — and imposed that inversion across the land. This is what politicized medicine looks like.”
Perhaps most revealing was Secretary Sebelius’ statement that “Not doing it would be like not covering flu shots,” comparing a healthy pregnancy to an illness.