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The Contraception Controversy

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The contraceptive controversy

White abortion has been a hotly debated topic for decades, contraception has only recently re-entered the spotlight. U.S. President Barack Obama put forth a plan requiring religiously affiliated institutions, like certain universities and hospitals, to provide contraception coverage in employee health plans. But retaliation from religious leaders has kept the issue in the news. Find out what the controversy is all about and why birth control is such an important topic in the U.S. and Canada.

The Conversation:

Early November, 2011
Chief of staff Bill Daley, President Obama, VP Joe Biden, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan meet to discuss contraception coverage. No female senior staff are informed. Upon learning of the meeting, female advisors (including Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius) feel excluded. Dolan would later reference this meeting, saying Obama "gave (him) promises" about the mandate.

November onward, 2011
Democrat senators like Jeanne Shaheen call for Obama to require contraception coverage.

December, 2011
Newt Gingrich announces his opposition to requiring religious groups to provide birth control coverage to employees.

January 20, 2012 Announcement of requirement for Catholic universities/charities to provide contraception coverage. Immediate retaliation by Dolan. Advisor Pete Rouse cautions pro-choice groups to lay low about the decision, so as not to appear boastful.

January 28, 2012
Catholic diocese asked to speak to churchgoers about the issue.

January 29, 2012
E.J. Dionne, Washington Post writer, admonishes the requirements.

February 2, 2012
Chris Matthews of MSNBC does the same.

February 8, 2012
Concern arises in Obama's re-election campaign about the press surrounding the issue.

February 9, 2012
Dolan tells the New York Daily News: He hopes for a "graceful exit" from the controversy for Obama

February 10, 2012
Obama announces that the responsibility will now fall on insurers, not employers, to provide coverage

Mid-February, 2012
Debates about whether the accommodation allows religious freedom erupt.

* According to Chief of Staff Jacob Lew, the cost to insurers for women's healthcare actually rises when contraceptive isn't covered in preventative care

The Catholic Controversy:

  • Bishop William Lori compared the requirement for Catholic universities, hospitals and more to requiring kosher delis to provide pork products
  • Churches themselves are exempt from the requirement. About 335,000 religious institutions remain exempt under Obama's plan.
  • Obama's accommodation to require insurers, not employers, to comply was insufficient for many Catholic leaders.
  • The Catholic Church wants to see birth control removed from preventative care completely.
53% of Catholics weren't persuaded to oppose birth control mandate knowing that Catholic bishops were staunchly opposed to it

58% of Catholics believe employers should be required to provide health care plans with coverage for contraceptive

GOP 2012 presidential candidates: For or against contraception?

Rick Santorum - personally opposed, but would not limit it if elected

Mitt Romney - did not move to repeal similar law for birth control provision as governor

Ron Paul - opposes federal involvement in the issue

Newt Gingrich - Opposes federal involvement in the issue

Why contraceptive is a relevant issue in the U.S.

69% of at-risk women use sterilization or hormonal birth control

68% of at-risk Catholic women do so

Only 1% of at-risk women use natural family planning as birth control

2% of at-risk Catholic women use natural family planning as birth control

Family planning is the only birth control method morally approved by the Catholic Church

Seven out of 10 women of reproductive age are at risk for accidental pregnancy

Being "at-risk" means they are not currently pregnant, postpartum or attempting pregnancy and they have had sex in the last three months

Contraception in Canada

In Canada, oral/hormonal contraceptives are the norm due to availability.

  • one in five Canadian women uses oral contraceptives
  • 9% use the rhythm method
  • 15% use condoms
  • 1% use IUD
  • 1% use diaphragms, cervical caps or other vaginal barriers
What about research for the advancement of other methods?

$20 million: amount spent on pregnancy and conception research

$916,226: amount spent by the Canadian Institute of Health Research on birth control research

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