On March 23rd the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments regarding the HHS Mandate and the Little Sisters of the Poor. The federal government is arguing that the Little Sisters must comply with this mandate in the health insurance that they provide for the people they employ. It is important to understand the far-reaching effects of the mandate. According to the site, ObamacareFacts.com, the Health and Human Services Mandate is this:
HHS issued guidance to clarify the requirement that insurers cover at least one form of each of the 18 FDA approved contraception (birth control) methods. This comes on the back of recent studies that showed that insurers were not covering certain birth control types or charging cost sharing for birth control of a certain category.
The guidance also makes it clear that:
- Grandfathered plans (plans that started before March 23rd, 2010) are exempt from the rule.
- Insurers cannot limit preventive services for transgender people based on their sex assigned at birth.
Birth control methods include morning-after pills and IUDs despite their being looked down upon by some religious and conservative groups for being “abortifacients,” meaning they cause abortion.
Although these methods have risk factors, side effects and some cause abortion they are mandated to be included in health care. One of the devastating risk factors for hormonal birth control is that these pills (or the NuvaRing) can cause blood clots. Women have died as a result of blood clots traveling to the lungs or brain.
Pills readily available to teens and young women pose another threat. Young women who have been taking hormonal birth control for a period of four years prior to having a full term pregnancy have a higher rate of breast cancer. More information is available at http://www.bcpinstitute.org
Young women who are sexually active, thinking that they are protected from pregnancy by taking contraceptives, are opening themselves up to sexually transmitted diseases including HPV. The HPV infection can lead to cervical cancer (increased risk if a woman has been taking birth control pills for more than 5 years) And so the CDC recommends that all young women get the HPV vaccine which has caused major health issues for some girls. See the warning issued by the American College of Pediatricians here.
Here are four reasons why the HHS mandate is bad for women and why it violates religious liberty.
- The medical guidance promoted by the HHS Mandate does not promote health. The recommendations offer short-term treatment for sexual intimacy, without considering side effects and long-term health.
- Girls, who have decided to abstain from sexual relations until marriage, do not need to get the risky HPV vaccine that is becoming a recommendation for all teenage girls. A one size fits all health policy that assumes multiple sexual partners is a disadvantage for girls that are making healthy choices and a bandaid for girls that don’t.
- Interventions like hormonal birth control and the HPV vaccine are likely to have more of an impact on the health of women who have poor nutrition and underlying health issues. We should be concerned with improving baseline health.
- The Little Sisters of the Poor should not be forced to include the 18 forms of birth control in the health insurance that they provide for employees in the elder care homes. The Catholic Church’s teaching on human sexuality is opposed to contraceptives, always has been. The Little Sisters have the right to live according to conscience in harmony with their faith.
Women are speaking up for their health and religious freedom at this site.
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