Roundup: Catholic Bishops Coming For Your Birth Control

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is once more trying to flex its muscles.  Not happy to have simply pushed to remove all abortion coverage from health care reform, they now have a new target: making sure birth control isn’t covered, either.


An organization representing U.S. Catholic bishops is asking federal regulators not to classify contraceptives and sterilization as preventive services, thus entitling them to full coverage under the health care reform law, in final rules.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a letter sent Friday to the Department of Health and Human Services, said that preventing pregnancy is not preventing a disease.

Over at Lifenews, the group goes into great detail, promoting falsehoods about the dangers of hormonal contraceptives as a reason not to cover them as the plan does all other preventative medications.

Normally preventive services mean vaccines, tests, screenings, etc. that are given with minimal risk to patients to prevent—or at least detect and provide an early warning of—serious illness and life-threatening conditions. Common examples: blood pressure and cholesterol screening for hypertension, mammograms for breast cancer, Pap tests for cervical cancer, and vaccines to prevent transmission of communicable diseases.

But prescription contraceptives don’t prevent or screen for disease. Their purpose is to block the normal functioning of a healthy reproductive system. They prevent a person from being conceived or born.

Moreover, far from preventing diseases, contraceptive use is associated with many harmful side effects and actually increases the risk of acquiring certain diseases.

The World Health Organization lists estrogen as a carcinogen. Estrogen is used in combined oral contraceptives (e.g., the pill, the patch, the vaginal ring) and in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopause. U.S. breast cancer rates soared as the number of women on HRT increased from the early 1980s to 2002, when the Women’s Health Initiative trial was halted after finding elevated risks of breast cancer and stroke. Between 2003 and 2006, when HRT use dropped significantly, breast cancer rates in the U.S. plummeted 18 percent!

Cancer is not the only problem. Contraceptive Technology cites numerous studies in which estrogen in contraceptives has been associated with increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, and hypertension.

Progestin-only contraceptives—mini pills, injections, and implants—have been associated with menstrual cycle disturbance, “excessive weight gain,” hair loss, and depression. The injectable contraceptive Depo-Provera has been found to significantly decrease bone mineral density.

Aside from being immoral to use and involving the above-mentioned health risks, contraceptives don’t work very well. Fifty-four percent of U.S. women seeking abortion were using contraception the month they became pregnant. The presumed efficacy of condom use in preventing STD transmission has been shown in studies to be completely offset by complacency and “risk compensation” (more casual partners, less care in use).

Planned Parenthood is fully aware of these increased risks, yet it wants mandated contraceptive coverage for all, perhaps so women will end up having to use their other services—emergency “contraception,” STD screening and treatment, mammograms and Pap tests, pregnancy testing, and abortions. That is no reason for the federal government to force all of us to buy such coverage. Is it not wiser and healthier to avoid these risks by respecting one’s own dignity and the dignity of marriage?

But advocates are reminding the public that preventative care is just that — preventing a medical condition.  Especially in the case of pregnancy, which can be both risky and expensive.  Via The Hill:

Montana’s commissioner of securities and insurance, however, wrote to urge mandatory coverage of “the full range of women’s preventive health care needs, including family planning.”

“Pregnancy is an expensive proposition and prevention of unplanned pregnancy is highly cost effective,” writes Commissioner Monica Lindeen. “For every public dollar invested in contraception, nearly $3.75 is saved in Medicaid expenditures that would have been needed for prenatal care, labor and delivery, postpartum care, and the infant’s first year of medical care.

“In addition, the costs of complications can be very high. Women with unplanned pregnancies have more complicated pregnancies and deliveries on average due to increased likelihood of inadequate prenatal care, exposure of the fetus to harmful substances, and low birth weight.”

Can the Conference of Bishops once more outmaneuver and strong arm politicians into abandoning any promises to help women through health care reform?  It looks like we’ll have another showdown to watch.

Mini Roundup: In a very public and morbid reminder of the fragile state of maternal mortality, Times Square’s National Debt Clock has a new counterpart.  Introducing the Maternal Death Clock, which will run for three days, marking the number of women who die every day due to childbirth and complications.

September 21, 2010

September 20, 2010

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  • beenthere72

    Somebody needs to start a petition to tell these bishops to shut the F* up.   I’d do it, but I’m sure someone else can spell it out much more eloquently than I can – and with less profanity.  

  • forced-birth-rape

    Exploiting a female for reproduction is just as odious and perverted as exploiting her for sex. STRESS takes years off your life, I am not a mother, but I have seen having children is very stressful financially, physically, and emotionally. It is not these wicked clueless old men’s bodies, and lives, that has to deal with children, pregnancy, and birth, it is women’s. I do not know who decided it was ok for men to have a say in birth control, birth, and abortion, but when they talk about it they present them selves as pimps. They should be humble enough to stay out of it, but a lot of men always want to go on a power trip and arrange unpleasant things for women’s bodies, and lives. Especially if a “vagina” is involved.

  • nycprochoicemd

    My favorite quote:

    Aside from being immoral to use and involving the above-mentioned health risks, contraceptives don’t work very well.

    Look, bishops, the 98% of the population that has at some time used contraception DOES NOT agree with you that contraception is immoral.  Hundreds of thousands of American health care providers DO think that contraceptives work well and that their health benefits far outweigh the risks, based on literally tens of thousands of research articles.  If you don’t trust us on this, why do you trust us on other medical matters?


    And why do you have ANY credibility with statements like this?  It makes no sense.  The bishops should be receiving as much ridicule as Christine O’Donnell is receiving for her bizarre statements about witchcraft and masturbation.


    The Catholic Bishops are the go-to source for matters regarding Catholicism.  I suggest they stick to that.  What they think is immoral should stay within their church; it shouldn’t be circulated to, or read by, our legislature.

  • rebellious-grrl

    As an ex-catholic I can’t run fast enough from the church.  It just sickens me that they are trying to force their theology down my throat. I hope more catholic women leave the church until the church is flat broke.



  • rebellious-grrl

    I agree, something needs to be done!

  • arekushieru

    To tell you the truth, FbiR, I agree with you 100%.  In fact, I think a case can be made that, ethically, forced birth is worse than forced sex.  This is how I see it as, ethically, worse:  The former lasts a longer time, is a much more intimate violation and is, directly, responsible for more health complications and loss of life, than the latter, especially if one does not force the latter but forces birth. 

  • forced-birth-rape

    I have read awful stories of birth in Dufar, I have never been pregnant but the women I know who were pregnant were anxious, and scared. It seems there is something about pregnancy that makes pregnant women feel very alone, no one should have to anticipate the birth process against her will. Can you imagine a young girl in a third world country having to wait nine months to give birth when she was very scared to, knowing women who have died from it. I feel very, very sorry for third world women and girls when it comes to birth and pregnancy.

  • bj-survivor

    Can we use this as a basis for a petition? You’ve said it much more moderately and eloquently than I ever could. My rage impulse just wants to shout: What the hell do supposedly celibate priest know about women’s reproductive health? And who voted for those assholes? That’s right, no one did. Further, women don’t even get a say in their odious religion. Gah!

  • elsa-landau

    Funny how they claim contraceptives have no medical use… 1 in 1000 women are peri-menopausal in their 20’s and still require estrogen to help their immune systems finish developing. 1 in 100 women are peri menopausal at the age of 30 and require estrogen to prevent osteoperosis, among other things. 

    As per article:

    “Planned Parenthood…wants mandated contraceptive coverage for all, perhaps so women will end up having to use their other services—emergency “contraception,” STD screening and treatment, mammograms and Pap tests, pregnancy testing, and abortions. That is no reason for the federal government to force all of us to buy such coverage. Is it not wiser and healthier to avoid these risks by respecting one’s own dignity and the dignity of marriage?”


    Uh, okay, let’s be fair then.  I don’t have a prostate.  Don’t force me to pay for prostate exams, biopsies, treatments, and even removals (let’s for the sake of accuracy call them what they really are…abortions…after all…they are your own cells containing all your own DNA and it is alive) and respect your own dignity by keeping your hands off your testes.  I mean, adjusting yourself in public…you call that dignified? 



  • liberaldem

    for the Catholic Church to mind its own business and stay the @#R$# out of women’s lives?  

    I for one am heartily sick of this institution’s hypocrisy and misogyny.  It considers the ordination of women to be a sin. It abhors abortion but refuses to consider artificial contraception as part of the solution to decreasing the number of abortions.  It refuses to accept that women are human beings who have the right to make their own decisions concerning their lives and whether/when to become mothers.

    But then, why should I expect any rational thought from an organization ruled by old, celibate men whose brains are probably encased in the semen backed up from decades of being celibate?