Last week the Institute of Medicine (IOM) announced its recommendation that comprehensive contraceptive methods be included as a preventive benefit. This means that, if the federal government agrees with the proposal, these services will be provided at no extra cost to women. It was a victory for all women, but especially poor women and those hit by the tough economic climate, because it would leave the decision to utilize family planning up to a woman's conscience, rather than on her ability to afford a co-pay. A group of 19 progressive Catholic organizations, including Catholics for Choice, celebrated this news and sent a letter asking Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, to implement the IOM's recommendations.
Not everyone is celebrating, however. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is up in arms about the news and has said, "The IOM missed an opportunity to promote better health care for women that is life-affirming and truly compassionate." In addition, the USCCB has been actively lobbying to allow some entities to opt out of this no-cost coverage for family planning by seeking to create burdensome conscience clause provisions.
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