Monday, January 28th, 2013
A number of religious organizations are filing lawsuits to challenge the provision of the new health care law that requires employers to cover birth control in their health plans. The flurry of lawsuits may mean the question will eventually be presented to the U.S. Supreme Court, legal analysts are saying. The New York Times reports:
In recent months, federal courts have seen dozens of lawsuits brought not only by religious institutions like Catholic dioceses but also by private employers ranging from a pizza mogul to produce transporters who say the government is forcing them to violate core tenets of their faith. Some have been turned away by judges convinced that access to contraception is a vital health need and a compelling state interest. Others have been told that their beliefs appear to outweigh any state interest and that they may hold off complying with the law until their cases have been judged. New suits are filed nearly weekly.
“This is highly likely to end up at the Supreme Court,” said Douglas Laycock, a law professor at the University of Virginia and one of the country’s top scholars on church-state conflicts. “There are so many cases, and we are already getting strong disagreements among the circuit courts.”
President Obama’s health care law, known as the Affordable Care Act, was the most fought-over piece of legislation in his first term and was the focus of a highly contentious Supreme Court decision last year that found it to be constitutional.
But a provision requiring the full coverage of contraception remains a matter of fierce controversy. The law says that companies must fully cover all “contraceptive methods and sterilization procedures” approved by the Food and Drug Administration, including “morning-after pills” and intrauterine devices whose effects some contend are akin to abortion.
As applied by the Health and Human Services Department, the law offers an exemption for “religious employers,” meaning those who meet a four-part test: that their purpose is to inculcate religious values, that they primarily employ and serve people who share their religious tenets, and that they are nonprofit groups under federal tax law.
Image: Lawsuit paperwork, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Friday, January 11th, 2013
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new intrauterine device (IUD), the first such new approval in 12 years, Reuters is reporting:
The T-shaped polyethylene device is designed to prevent pregnancy for 3 years, during which time it releases a diminishing dosage of progestin, according to Bayer documents.
The proportion of women using long-acting reversible contraceptive methods such as an intrauterine device (IUD) climbed to 7.7 percent in 2009 up from 2.0 percent in 2002, according a 2012 study by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health and rights organization based in New York.
The highest level of use was among women aged 25-39 and those who already had at least one child.
The IUD, called Skyla, is aimed at younger women who have not had children. During a trial of 1,432 women aged 18 to 35 years, the rate of pregnancy over a three-year period was 0.9 per 100 women, and 77 percent of women wishing to become pregnant did so within 12 months of its removal, Bayer documents said.
“Over half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended and there’s just a need out there to have effective birth control,” said Pamela Cyrus, Bayer’s head of medical affairs said in an interview.
Image: Woman talking to her doctor, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Tuesday, November 27th, 2012
The American Academy of Pediatrics is revising its policy on contraception, now recommending that pediatricians should discuss safe sex and contraceptive options including the “morning-after” pill Plan B with teenaged patients and their parents. Further, the AAP is recommending pediatricians prescribe a “just-in-case” Plan B prescription teens can carry in their wallets. More from CNN.com:
The United States has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy among developed countries. Nearly 80% of teen pregnancies are unplanned, a result of contraception failure or nonuse, according to the AAP.
The use of emergency contraception has been around since the 1970s, when doctors often advised patients to double up on their regular birth control pills in a method called “Yuzpe.” Since then several products have been approved for use by prescription and over-the-counter. Yet lead author Dr. Cora Beurner said there are still many people who don’t know about emergency contraception or have unfounded fears about using it.
Emergency contraception is designed to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. It works by inhibiting ovulation and disrupting the production of key cells needed in a woman’s body to conceive. It works best if taken up to 24 hours after intercourse, although it lowers pregnancy risk if taken within 120 hours (five days). It will not work if you are already pregnant.
Emergency contraception is available with a prescription for all patients and available over-the-counter for women over the age of 17. The pills cost around $80.
Image: Teenage girl with doctor, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Monday, October 8th, 2012
A new large-scale study has found that access to free contraceptive pills is part of the explanation for well-documented drops in the rates of both teen pregnancy and abortions. The finding comes just before the Obama administration’s health care law takes effect, including provisions that will offer birth control coverage to women nationwide. The Associated Press has more:
When price wasn’t an issue, women flocked to the most effective contraceptives — the implanted options, which typically cost hundreds of dollars up-front to insert. These women experienced far fewer unintended pregnancies as a result, reported Dr. Jeffrey Peipert of Washington University in St. Louis in a study published Thursday.
The effect on teen pregnancy was striking: There were 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study. Compare that to a national rate of 34 births per 1,000 teens in 2010.
There also were substantially lower rates of abortion, when compared with women in the metro area and nationally: 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women in the study, compared with 13.4 to 17 abortions per 1,000 women overall in the St. Louis region, Peipert calculated. That’s lower than the national rate, too, which is almost 20 abortions per 1,000 women.
In fact, if the program were expanded, one abortion could be prevented for every 79 to 137 women given a free contraceptive choice, Peipert’s team reported in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Image: Birth control pills, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
Thirteen public high schools in New York City offer “morning-after” contraceptive pills to girls in a program that has not gotten a lot of attention. NBC News reports:
The program, called CATCH, or Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Healthcare, is aimed at reducing unplanned teen pregnancy. It began in January 2011, but wasn’t publicized until the New York Post reported it over the weekend.
“In any given every year there are about 7,000 pregnancies to girls ages 15 to 17 in New York City, about 90 percent of those are unintended,” said Deborah Kaplan, assistant commissioner at the city health department’s Bureau of Maternal, Infant and Reproductive Health. “We wanted to make sure young people who are sexually active have easy access to contraceptive services and general reproductive health services.”
Oral contraceptives, including the morning-after Plan B pill, have been available to students at most of the 40 schools that have school-based health centers for the last one to four years, depending on the school, Kaplan said. The centers, which serve about one-quarter of New York City’s public high school students, provide primary care health services and are run privately by separate institutions like hospitals.
For the first time, with the CATCH program, the Health Department is making the contraceptives available in schools without the private health centers. The program began in January 2011 in five schools, and is now in 13 schools. The schools were chosen because they are in neighborhoods with high teen pregnancy rates or with limited resources for young people to get contraception. City high schools have long provided condoms.
Image: Girl with nurse, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment