Obama’s plan provides birth control for women, causes controversy

Access to birth control will be expanded in August, with President Barack Obama requiring employers to provide free preventative care for women under the Affordable Care Act.

Obama’s new rules, announced Friday, also bypass religious employers who object to contraception, with birth control to be provided directly by an insurer. But some religious institutions that consider contraception a sin are still unsettled by the order.

“Once you are married and begin to engage in sexual intercourse, it is considered a total act of self,” said the Rev. Gregory Ketcham of St. John’s Newman Center. “The sexual act reflects giving up your reproductive self over to your partner and over to God.”

Obama’s new guidelines cover all women’s preventative services without charging a co-pay or deductible, according to a White House press release.

Ketcham said the Catholic church views artificial birth control, such as oral contraceptives, as an intrinsic sin that goes against God’s plan. The Roman Catholic Church’s official recommendation is natural family planning, which involves periodic abstinence when the woman is fertile.

“Couples can do other things to be intimate during the times where the woman is fertile, such as listening to music or talking,” Ketcham said.

But Kim Rice, sexual health educator at the McKinley Health Center, said she would not necessarily recommend natural family planning as a form of contraception.

“I would recommend whatever the student feels comfortable with and will be safe in doing,” Rice said. “It’s best that the student sees all options for preventative care, rather than just one right method.”

The Affordable Care Act does provide a religious exemption by having the institutions not having to directly provide birth control. Instead, the woman receives the contraceptives directly through her insurance agent instead of the objecting employer.

These guidelines, however, would not affect the University health insurance plan students are covered by, since it does not cover the cost of any medication students are prescribed. Students looking to receive birth control through McKinley would need to go through the steps already put in place by the health center, which involves a roughly 15-minute-long online “birth control class” that gives an overview of contraceptive options.

Students also can meet with one of several women’s health providers to speak about the best option suited for the student. A physical exam may be performed if the student has not had one recently.

“Most women use a prescription oral contraceptive. We also offer diaphragms, the birth control shot or an IUD,” said Dr. David Lawrance, McKinley’s medical director.

Free condoms are always available in the McKinley Health Resources room. Birth control, including oral contraceptives, can range from $5 per month to a one time payment of $40.