Democrats Stall on Birth Control Coverage for Women


Michigan women with health insurance can find themselves paying up to $65 a month for a prescription to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Meanwhile, their insured male counterparts can pick up a free prescription for Viagra.

Michigan is one of 23 states that doesn’t require insurance companies to cover birth control pills. However, Viagra and other impotence medications are covered widely. In August 2006, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission issued a nonbinding ruling that failure to cover contraceptives in the same way as other prescriptions constitutes sex discrimination.

"Women spend about 68 percent more on health care each year than men do," said Lori Lamerand, board chair of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan. "In general we women spend way more out of pocket on our health care than men will ever be asked to do. This is the most dramatic example of inequity."

In February 2007, state Rep. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, introduced House Bill 4295 to require insurance companies to cover all contraceptives approved by the U.S. Food and Drug and Administration. The bill has languished since in the Health Policy Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Kathy Angerer, an anti-choice Democrat from Monroe.

Angerer did not return a call seeking comment.

"We don’t have what we think of as enlightened folks on the pregnancy prevention front right now sitting in Lansing," Lamerand said. "On one level we’re glad we have a Democratic majority, but we don’t have a pro-family planning policy."

The issue of contraceptive coverage made news recently just after Sen. John McCain visited Michigan. On his campaign bus a reporter asked whether he thought it was fair that insurance companies cover Viagra but not birth control.

McCain responded with a long, awkward silence before saying it was an issue he hadn’t "thought much about" and that he didn’t know enough to give the reporter an "informed response." However in 2003, McCain voted against the Murray Amendment, which would have improved the availability of contraceptives for women and required insurance coverage of prescription birth control.

"I think he was simply really unprepared," Lamerand said of McCain’s response. "He’s not a supporter of women’s health or contraception. And that should worry us."

There is no federal law requiring insurance companies to cover birth control. McCain’s home state of Arizona is one of 27 states that do so.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on sexual and reproductive health research, 98 percent of sexually active women used at least one method of birth control in 2002.

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  • invalid-0

    Greetings,

    It is a dissimilar analogy to compare impotence treatment for men versus chemical contraception augmentation for women. One treats a diagnosable medical condition while the other creates one: temporary (one hopes) sterility.

    Timothy+

  • invalid-0

    The point however, is that the government is making it easier (and possible at all for some) to impregnate women, but then making it nigh impossible for women to prevent that pregnancy if it’s not wanted. And that, my friends, is the most asinine thing a government, or anyone, could do.

  • http://www.AlternaTees.com invalid-0

    I think this is the most hilarious story of governmental hypocrisy since Tom DeLay put his daughter in a hot tub with a bunch of lobbyists.

    I really appreciate the distraction from my obsessive research into the absence of dinosaurs from Noah’s Ark.

  • invalid-0

    Some people look for differences, others for similarities. Both Viagra and the Pill enable their users to enjoy sex in a way that might not have been possible otherwise.

    That being said, it’s really irrelevent. Denying women contraception is an outrage even if Viagra wasn’t coverred by medical insurance.

    This is off topic, but I was dissappointed that there was no place for me to add a personal message in the email to leavett.

  • invalid-0

    Just a heads up that birth control is used for such things as dysmenorrhea, dysfunctional unterine bleeding, endometriosis, and polycystic ovarian syndrome to name a few. So its not just birth control…..not that any woman should have to justify controlling when she reproduces.

  • invalid-0

    And being on birth control for 5 years straight decreases a woman’s risk of Ovarian Cancer by 60%……so how exactly is birth control “creating” a medical condition.

  • invalid-0

    What about those young girls who’s menstrual periods are so bad that they have to miss school 1 week a month? Birth control regulates a woman’s period as well, and can help alleviate menstrual pain and symptoms that there is no real reason she should have to suffer through. Are you going to tell them to shoot a bottle of Tylenol and get over it? Not every woman is on hormonal methods of birth control only to prevent unwanted pregnancy. And not being able to get a hard-on is NOT akin to alleviating extreme menstrual pain, which, by the way, is also a “diagnosable medical condition”. Have you ever heard of PMDD? Probably not.

  • invalid-0

    Greetings,

    I agree that the conditions that you listed are medical reasons to use chemical contraception. However, the context of the article would have a woman using chemical contraception to “prevent an unwanted pregnancy”, which is not a medical condition or a disease.

    Timothy+

  • invalid-0

    Greetings,

    The reason why chemical contraption facilitates a greater enjoyment of sex in a woman is because she does not have to worry about getting pregnant while taking it. Thank you for your honesty ‘viagra vs. the Pill’. However, I disagree with you that denying women chemical contraption is an outrage because pregnancy is not a disease that can be treated medically nor is an attempt by a woman to prevent a pregnancy considered a disease or medical condition, which can be treated medically.

    Timothy+

  • invalid-0

    Pregnancy is considered a medical condition, even when it doesn’t have complications.

  • invalid-0

    ED is a medical condition because we choose to define it as such. For someone who chooses to be celibate it is not treated as a medical condition, nor is it treated chemically with Viagra.

  • invalid-0

    Which brings up a good point – why should insurance cover the chemical treatment of ED when there is a non-chemical, no cost alternative for men. Its called abstinence. Insurance is paying for their behavior choices, but they do have an alternative available to them.

  • invalid-0

    Greetings,

    I apologize for not being clear. A woman’s desire of preventing a pregnancy is not a medical condition that necessitates the medical use of chemical contraception. The desire to engage in the conjugal act always corresponds to the grave responsibility of recognizing the true reality of such relations.

    Timothy+

  • invalid-0

    Greetings,

    Well, ED will always be a medical condition because something is abnormal with the man who has it whether he decides to treat it or not. For example, just because someone does not have chemotherapy does not mean that he does not have cancer. In contrast, a normally operating ovary ought not be treated to change it into performing abnormally.

    Timothy+

  • invalid-0

    Greetings,

    Abstinence is a willful decision to abstain from something that one could ordinarily do. Therefore, an untreated man with ED cannot abstain from something he cannot do in the first place. Conversely, a woman can engage in the conjugal act whether she uses chemical contraception or not.

    Timothy+

  • invalid-0

    When a woman can properly time and space her pregnancies (through hormonal birth control), it lowers maternal mortality and infant mortality. It also lowers chances of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.

    Also, ED is something that happens normally…it is not a medical condition. It is actually only a medical condition in a handful of cases. Typically, ED is a symptom of getting older. According to your argument, why should we treat a normal penis chemically and make it behave abnormally?

    Why is that we offer men a drug that helps them to have sex, but not women?

  • invalid-0

    Simply your opinion about whether it necessitates medical contraception. Others differ and believe birth control is taking responsibility.
    Insurance currently covers other health care that prevents medical conditions from occurring. Medical conditions, diseases and illnesses often have behavioral triggers/components or social reasons. Your desire to engage in specific behavior and in society where there are communicable disease should also carry responsibility to recognize the true reality of such relations by likewise not necessitating preventative care.

  • invalid-0

    ED can be very normal as men age. In many cases it has perfectly natural causes.

  • invalid-0

    So you don’t like my use of the word abstinence.

    Replace that phrase with ‘Its called not having sex’. Again its low cost, no chemicals. Also, actually giving him the ability to have chemically induced erections to engage in sex may create non-previously existing medical conditions for him such as STDs.

  • invalid-0

    Natural aging is abnormal and needs to be treated? Since when should an 80 year old man have the same erectile functioning as someone in their 20s?

  • invalid-0

    Greetings,

    I agree. Moreover, it is also normal to develop many other medical problems as we age that come from an array of natural causes. The fact that the medical problems develop is normal. The problems themselves are abnormal or they would not be problems.

    Timothy+

  • invalid-0

    **the fact that the medical problems develop is normal**…yet **the problems are abnormal**?!

    You’re really trying to claim that? These conditions (which you choose to call problems) are normal if their development is normal. These are normal human conditions – just because we have discovered medical means to override them doesn’t suddenly make them abnormal to the aging process.

  • invalid-0

    Multiple unwanted births are bad for women’s health. Satisfying sex is good for women’s health and good for long term relationships, which are also good for women’s health. Birth control is health care. This is not difficult to figure out.

    What is also not difficult to figure out is if we are going to use advance medical technology to prolong our lives then we must also use it to limit our breeding. If we insist on living till we are 70 to 100 then not covering Viagra makes a lot more sense than not covering birth-control. If people insist that Viagra should be covered as opposed to birth-control then they should be willing to die at 40.

  • invalid-0

    ————————————————————
    In contrast, a normally operating ovary ought not be treated to change it into performing abnormally.
    ————————————————————

    Its not your decision. The pill establishes the hormonal balance that mimics pregnancy, and prevents medical issues that arise in actual pregnancy.

  • invalid-0

    I agree with you that others disagree with me but that does not change the fact, which cannot be an opinion by definition, that there is nothing medically wrong with a woman who induces chemical contraception into her body as opposed to the man who treats a medical deficiency by employing chemical means. I have proven that the author of the article employed a dissimilar analogy. That is, unless pregnancy is now to be to considered a disease. Moreover, ‘preventing pregnancy’ is not a medical condition. I agree with you that pregnancy itself is a medical condition, but pregnancy is not a disease or illness. I am not aware of a medical condition for which an insurance company provides medical treatment where it allows an individual himself to define whether or not the condition itself is to be considered malignant, as insurances companies are only compelled to do now by laws that promote chemically contraception use by women. Social and behavioral concerns are to be treated anthropologically, as they pertain only to those psychologically compromised individuals who only marginally consume chemical contraception as compared to the aggregate. Finally, the discussion we are having is centered on chemical contraception, which obliviously does nothing to prevent, treat, or otherwise control a single communicable disease. Again, that is unless pregnancy is now to be considered a disease, which chemical contraception certainly appears to make it be. Also, and conversely, the case can obliviously be more accurately made that the irresponsible ingestion of chemical contraception by certain women contributes to communicable diseases being spread through society.
    Timothy+

  • invalid-0

    Greetings,

    I realize that it is not my decision. This is why there is currently a cultural war in the Western World of which this little discussion is a battle that is trying to appeal to reason.

    Timothy+

  • invalid-0

    Greetings,
    Chemical contraception is to prevent pregnancy not to help a woman do what she could do without it. It is normal to have problems as we age. The problems, however, are abnormal, or we would have to just let all age related illnesses be untreated if the problems in themselves were normal.

    Timothy+

  • invalid-0

    Greetings,

    Well, I am running out of time— so I apologize for drawing out the risible because I do not want to appear to be leaning towards the ad hominem in my arguments but—

    *Multiple unwanted births are bad for women’s health* but I suspect that wanted multiple births are good for a women’s health.

    Timothy+

  • invalid-0

    **does not change the fact, which cannot be an opinion by definition** – no a fact is not an opinion**

    but you failed to follow this statement by a fact – you follow it by your opinion on contraception which is not a fact. You can’t make your opinion a fact only because you wish to. You haven’t proven a thing.

    I agree with you that pregnancy itself is a medical condition, but pregnancy is not a disease or illness.**

    **I agree with you that pregnancy itself is a medical condition, but pregnancy is not a disease or illness. I am not aware of a medical condition for which an insurance company provides medical treatment where it allows an individual himself to define whether or not the condition itself is to be considered malignant, as insurances companies are only compelled to do now by laws that promote chemically contraception use by women**

    No one said that insurance companies only cover conditions or illnesses that are malignant. ED is not malignant in the pathology sense for medical care. Pregnancy, however, can cause death. As I already stated, insurance covers preventative measures.

    **Social and behavioral concerns are to be treated anthropologically, as they pertain only to those psychologically compromised individuals who only marginally consume chemical contraception as compared to the aggregate.””

    You try to marginalize this to psychologically compromised individuals, it has nothing to do with that. Its the nature of many diseases in the whole population. Simply put you don’t want to live by your own criteria that you want to impose upon women.

    **Finally, the discussion we are having is centered on chemical contraception, which obliviously does nothing to prevent, treat, or otherwise control a single communicable disease. Again, that is unless pregnancy is now to be considered a disease, which chemical contraception certainly appears to make it be. Also, and conversely, the case can obliviously be more accurately made that the irresponsible ingestion of chemical contraception by certain women contributes to communicable diseases being spread through society.**

    Pregnancy a medical condition. Diseases, illness, and medical conditions are medically coded in the same schema. Now you want to throw in the word disease to try and treat it differently and ignore all other medical conditions and illnesses that get preventative care. Contraception doesn’t make it a disease anymore than pre-natal treatments do. Go back to the social behavior diseases I brought up – you similarly shouldn’t be irresponsible and get treatment for and medical condition/diseases/illnesses that had behavioral/social components and continue to spread those through society so there.

  • invalid-0

    Next thing we know Timothy is going to claim that the dying process is normal but dying itself is abnormal.

  • invalid-0

    Just to clarify – the ** to set off copy/paste should not be after ‘opinion’ in the above post but before the sentence that starts ‘I agree’

  • invalid-0

    —————————————————
    that is trying to appeal to reason.
    —————————————————-

    Exactly why I chose to comment.

  • invalid-0

    Gotta love the word play. On the contrary, treatment doesn’t hinge on whether something is normal or not.

    Illness is normal. The bacteria and viruses that create them are normal. Limp dicks are normal. Certain diseases such as heart attacks are a normal response by the body given certain conditions that can sometimes be brought on by the persons neglect of their own health or other behavior. These are all part of the normal human condition. Miscarriages are normal yet we often try to treat the pregnancy to prevent those too.

    The international medical classification actually contains coding for ‘normal’.

  • invalid-0

    Normal can be whats standard/usual but also something of natural occurrence as in the examples….and the medical classification does have coding for ‘normal’ around pregnancy.

  • invalid-0

    The coding is the medical classifications for diseases and other health related issues. Whats defined as ‘normal’ is treated.

  • invalid-0

    **Chemical contraception is to prevent pregnancy not to help a woman do what she could do without it.**

    A woman can’t have her period if she gets pregnant. The pill helps her keep her period by stopping pregnancy. Any woman that wants to keep her period has a right. Also it helps regulate difficult periods.

    Reasons to say yea to women keeping their periods through pill use and also to the pill for assisting with difficult periods!

  • invalid-0

    ED itself is not only natural but could have reasons in nature regarding reproduction – we now know that as a man ages his sperm has a greater chance of leading to birth defects in the pregnancies that result.

    http://health.dailynewscentral.com/content/view/0002286/49/

  • invalid-0

    To the last sentence – like using Viagra to overcome normal ED thereby spreading STDs that he’s so worried about women doing.

  • invalid-0

    “…but I suspect that wanted multiple births are good for a women’s health.”

    Yes & no, multiple wanted births can be bad for a woman’s health. Depends on the woman, age, number of previous births, stress levels, ect. All one has to do is look it up in a medical journal. Birth may be natural, but it is not always beautiful, unless you have a fetish. Again, unwanted pregnancy and childbirth is bad for a woman’s health. Paternalism can do nothing to change that.

  • invalid-0

    I have to agree with the author and some of the other comments. The ruling she uses sums up much of it – “failure to cover contraceptives in the same way as other prescriptions constitutes sex discrimination.”

    <>

    It is especially hypocritical for impotence medicine to be covered while birth control is not. Although impotence is sometimes a symptom of a disease (treat the disease then), loosing ones ability to have an erection is otherwise a natural part of aging. Wanting to overcome this is a desire by some to engage in certain behavior – so they want to override this normal aspect of aging. There is no medical harm or conditions – immediate or prevented – that result for the man if he can’t get Viagra for elective sex. However, there are side effects to using it.

    <>

    The pill prevents a medical condition and pregnancy too often has additional medical conditions/complications. While the pill may also have side effects, it is still safer than the childbirth it prevents. Like Viagra it also can be seen as a behavior choice, but the pill reduces much of the medical risk for this same behavior. Pregnancy spacing is also a health issue as pointed out elsewhere.

    <>

    Men end up getting an entitlement to free medicine to support their behavior that puts them at risk for medical side effects where there previously was none, yet women still have to pay out of pocket for medicine that on the whole actually decreases and prevents greater medical conditions. Since when did insurance coverage get prioritized this way.

  • invalid-0

    I must have been really tired when posting that last paragraph.

    My statement about ‘throw in the word disease’ should say ‘use the word disease’. I know ‘disease’ already came up in prior comments and I too commented on disease when when pointing out that the medical conditions/illnesses/diseases have behavior triggers/social components and communicable ones, and that insurance covers preventative care for the individual to prevent medical conditions.

    These last sentences should read……“Pregnancy is a medical condition. Diseases, illness, and medical conditions are medically coded in the same schema. You want to use the word disease to try and treat it differently and ignore all other medical conditions and illnesses that get preventative care” ……..and……. “You similarly shouldn’t be ‘irresponsible’ by using preventative treatment to protect you from medical conditions/illnesses/disease where you chose to take the risk by engaging in the ‘true reality’ of society or behavior, nor obtain any Viagra that helps spread disease through society.”

    Although I honestly missed your attempt to make all social and behavioral conditions that lead to medical conditions a contraception issue. As if the behavioral/social factors that put one at risk for stroke, obesity, measles or the flu can be tied to contraception users.

  • invalid-0


    One treats a diagnosable medical condition while the other creates one: temporary (one hopes) sterility.

    A woman wants to override her hormonal changes with a drug but she gets accused of causing a medical condition (who would consider it in this case a medical condition in terms of needing treatment? – instead, it’s the desired therapeutic state).

    Fertile women already often have *temporary sterility* as part of their cycle and and this *temporary sterility* is not by itself a *medical condition* if a woman is not trying to get pregnant. Although women’s menstrual cycles are varied, so sometimes pregnancy can occur at any time during their periods, for fertile women conception is often only possible on certain days during her cycle. This is what natural family planning ‘attempts’ to measure – these sterile days and fertile days. In this case the sterile days are the desired factor. For a reference on how they try to use this in NFP see

    ‘Assessment of the fertile and sterile phases of the menstrual cycle’

    at http://www.popline.org/docs/0355/783518.html

    Also,

    Most menstrual cycles have several days at the beginning that are infertile (pre-ovulatory infertility), a period of fertility, and then several days just before the next menstruation that are infertile (post-ovulatory infertility)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fertility_awareness

    I’m not an advocate of NFP and I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that it is easy to predict these as fertile days can vary even for a single woman from month to month, be very narrow, and not always predictable (patents are filed to use technology to more accurately measure these infertile days though) so I’ve attached link regarding this. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11082086

    However the point is that *temporary sterility* already happens in ‘fertile’ women.

    Outside of wanting to get pregnant, no doctor asking me about my menstrual cycle has attempted to diagnose me with this *medical condition* at any phase of my cycle even though I’ve likely had *temporary sterility* with my periods for years. Applying infertility further – breastfeeding suppresses ovulation and can leave the woman with *temporary sterility* for an extended time following childbirth. No one has suggested I not breastfeed in order to avoid voluntarily creating this *medical condition*. So we women already deal with *temporary sterility* and it is not at all treated as a medical condition in any of these cases.

    We override nature all the time with medicine. If a man wants to improve his lifestyle let him go get his drug induced hard-on if his biological state (provided the impotence is not due to disease factors) no longer allows regular hard-ons. (and if he has disease factors, its often advisable to treat the disease instead as the use of impotence drugs has masked diagnosis of the underlying disease or caused negative medical side effects) But if a woman also wants to remain sterile throughout a longer number of days in her cycle or years of her life through drugs while also preventing the higher medical risks of pregnancy, she has just as much claim to her right.