(CNSNews.com) – Tens of millions of American women will have access to contraceptives thanks to the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on Thursday at a conference on “Global Health Policy in the Second Obama Term.”
“I’m really pleased to be here today to speak about a top priority for the Obama administration and certainly for me personally, one that I’ve worked on for a very long time – and that’s the health of women and girls not only in this country but around the world,” Sebelius said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIC) in Washington, D.C.
In her remarks, Sebelius touted Obamacare, saying that being a woman will no longer be “a pre-existing condition” because insurance companies will not be able to deny coverage to women based on pregnancy or other medical conditions.
“We’re also ending, finally, what has been a ridiculous double standard in way too many plans, where Viagra is treated like an essential medication and birth control like a luxury product,” Sebelius said.
“Because of the new law, tens of millions of women can now walk into their doctor’s office and get contraceptive care and other critical preventive services without co-pays or co-insurance – taking down a huge financial barrier,” Sebelius said.
Under an Obamacare mandate that has been criticized as a violation of religious liberty as prescribed in the 1st amendment, nearly all health insurance plans are required to offer contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs, such as “ella,” without co-payments. The U.S. Catholic bishops have described the mandate as unjust and illegal,” and at least 48 lawsuits have been filed challenging the constitutionality of the regulation.
Sebelius’ keynote speech was followed by a panel discussion based on a CSIS report that includes praise for President Barack Obama and ongoing international efforts to increase access to contraceptives, including sterilization and abortion, around the world.
“The first Obama administration’s budget requests for bilateral and multilateral family planning programs increased steadily during the first three years of the administration, reaching a high of $769 million requested for FY 2012. The current funding level of $610 million (under the continuing resolution) is an increase of more than 30 percent over the spending level of 2009,” the report states. “These resources have helped millions more women access the services they need, but remain inadequate to meet the existing unmet need.”
The report states that the Obama administration should ‘de-politicize’ family planning and promote international efforts to increase access to contraceptives globally, like the Family Planning 2020 initiative announced last summer in the UK by the United Nations and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation “to reach 120 million more women with lifesaving family planning by 2020.”
“The ongoing challenge for the Obama administration is how to de-politicize these issues in the United States and to focus on the importance of access to voluntary family planning services for women and men around the world,” the report states. “Given the likelihood of tight budgets in the years ahead, this will involve sustaining U.S. global leadership in family planning, leveraging developing country resources and pushing for policy and legal reforms, and actively participating in global initiatives such as Family Planning 2020.”