We just sent out the following email. If you have a spare minute this weekend or next week, please sign our new petition to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. We’re asking for her to support something that might seem obvious to all of you, but for some reason is under attack from the conservative right wing: the ability for all women to access no-copay birth control — including those at Catholic and other religious affiliated colleges and universities.
Young women who access health care through religious affiliated colleges and universities should not be denied basic health coverage simply because their college doesn’t want to provide it.
In order to ensure that more women have access to birth control, the Department of Health and Human Services specifically included contraception as basic, necessary preventive medicine covered by insurance without a copay. This would mean that religious affiliated colleges and hospitals would need to include this basic preventive coverage in health plans for their students and employees.
Not surprisingly, the conservative right wing is urging Secretary Sebelius to expand an already unnecessary "religious exemption" rule. Expanding this language would affect religious affiliated schools, hospitals and more, allowing Catholic colleges and other institutions to offer health plans without covering birth control.
When I was a Georgetown University student, I saw firsthand the hardship students face when they receive health care — but no access to birth control, condoms, or family planning services. Too often, my peers were forced to lie to their doctors about needing birth control for non-contraceptive reasons or rely on the limited resources of local family planning clinics — even though they already had health insurance. And we know that many women must skip contraception entirely because they cannot afford the high monthly cost of birth control pills.
After all, these schools serve Catholic and non-Catholic students alike — and the vast majority of Catholics use birth control at roughly the same rates as the rest of the country! Women shouldn’t be forced to pay out-of-pocket for making the responsible decision of accessing contraception to prevent pregnancy.
We have a responsibility to tell Secretary Sebelius that we support access to no-copay birth control, particularly if we attend or are an alumna/alumnus of a religious affiliated college. HHS needs to hear from you!
Last month the Department of Health and Human Services approved recommendations from the Institute of Medicine to make birth control available with no copay for those with health insurance. We were thrilled to bring you this exciting news — and we know that many of you contributed significantly to this win by gathering signatures in support of "no-copay birth control" on your campuses and in your communities.
We can’t stop now! Together, we need to act quickly to show that there is widespread support for access to birth control — especially among students at religious affiliated schools.
Keep up the great work!
Senior Manager of Domestic Policy
Advocates for Youth