Last month, Dr. Hal C. Lawrence, executive vice president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a University professor, praised the Administration’s decision to require full contraceptive coverage without copay on all new insurance plans.
“The women of this country deserve no less than access to all comprehensive and clinically effective preventive care,” Lawrence said in an ACOG press release.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has already criticized what it sees an excessively narrow religious exemption. “Although this new rule gives the agency the discretion to authorize a ‘religious’ exemption, it is so narrow as to exclude most Catholic social service agencies and healthcare providers,” Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, told LifeSiteNews.
The regulation will take effect beginning Aug. 1, 2012. It may include a conscience clause that would allow religious institutions to opt out of the coverage. However, the ACOG press release argued against such an exemption.
“Should a woman choose to use birth control, she should have access to all methods at no cost, as these guidelines insure,” reads the press release. “However, any exemption to religious-affiliated health plans from this contraceptive requirement erodes this right. ACOG recommends that no exemption be allowed and looks forward to resolving these concerns with HHS.”
The new regulation will encompass all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraception – including Plan B – as well as more comprehensive HIV and STI screenings, and domestic violence screening and care.