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These are red herrings to distract from the core issue: the Administration's unprecedented violation of rights of conscience and religious liberty in forcing almost everyone who offers or purchases a health plan—including faithful Catholics and most Catholic employers—to cover sterilization procedures, contraceptives, and abortifacients.
Can supporters claim access is a problem, while also asserting that over 99% of sexually active American women age 15-44 have used contraceptives?
Low-income women can't afford contraceptives? They received $2.37 billion in federal and state funding for family planning in 2010. Oral contraceptives are also available from many pharmacies for a few dollars a month.
Even teens have access! Contraceptive use is "virtually universal" among sexually experienced teens (96%), according to an October 2011 report on teen sexual activity and contraceptive use by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The good news is that most teens are now choosing self-control instead of fertility control with hormones and latex. Currently, 57% of girls 15-19 and 58% of boys have never had sex. Since 1988, abstinence rates increased 20% among these girls and almost 50% among boys.
The importance of this trend cannot be overstated, because one-third of sexually active teen girls will become pregnant—despite using contraception—within two years of initiating sex. And young people aged 15-24 acquire close to 10 million new sexually transmitted infections each year. Many STDs are incurable, and annual treatment costs are estimated to exceed $14 billion.
But the contraceptive mandate is not just about access to condoms and pills. Reproductive "rights" advocates hope it will help take fertility out of the control of contraceptive users (who may not always take a pill promptly or use a condom as instructed) and give control to drug companies and doctors, by switching women to expensive "long-acting reversible contraceptives" (LARCs).
In its 1995 "Uneven and Unequal" position paper, the Guttmacher Institute proposed a comprehensive plan to accomplish this through health care reform:
So, why do some people think contraception prevents health problems? And why is it a "war" on women to speak up for their health, and their freedom to say no to this agenda?
is Assistant Director for Education & Outreach, United States
Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. To learn more
Catholic bishops' activities on conscience protection, visit www.usccb.org/conscience.
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