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PANEL: Barrier to birth control?

| December 17, 2010 6:38 AM

I've read that a group of medical and policy experts are deciding whether to categorize birth control as preventive medicine under the new health care reform law. If it is considered preventive medicine, it will be covered for free by health plans and women will not be required to contribute co-pays to get their prescription birth control.

My reaction to this news is a question: Why do we need a panel to decide what is so blatantly clear? It's hard to find a better example of preventive care than birth control. Birth control helps women stay healthy and to avoid unintended pregnancies, but many are unaware that it helps women with health issues unrelated to reproduction: treating acne; mitigating cramps; regulating cycles; decreasing the risk of iron deficiencies, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, osteoporosis; and even helps maintain breast health.

When women can plan and space children, families and communities also benefit. The fact that this issue is even up for debate is mind-boggling. In addition to improving and saving lives, birth control also saves money.

By preventing unintended pregnancy and giving women the tools to stay healthy and make responsible decisions, our government saves a fortune in costs associated with unintended pregnancy and poor health.

The clear fiscal and social benefits of birth control should be especially relevant. Idaho should support preventive health care for women - we literally can't afford to do otherwise.

KATIE REOCH

Coeur d'Alene

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