USCCB Responds to White House Blog about Birth Control Coverage

rosary The White House posted a blog that described the facts about birth control coverage, insurance, and religion. Now, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has responded to that blog, by giving their interpretation of what it says, and their opinions about it. Clearly, the battle about birth control coverage is continuing.

Recently, the White House posted a blog called “Health Reform, Preventative Services, and Religious Institutions”. This blog provides the facts about insurance coverage for birth control. I believe that this blog post was intended to give clarification to the rumors that people have been spreading across the internet regarding this topic.

Now, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has posted their response to the White House’s blog. They have titled their response “White House Misrepresents its Own Contraceptive Mandate”. It consists of a point by point response to each of the facts that were posted on the White House’s blog.

One of the claims made by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops USCCB has to do with the exemption. The White House points out that “Churches and other houses of worship will be exempt from the requirement to offer insurance that covers contraception”.

The USCCB states that this isn’t “entirely true”. They make this claim: “To be eligible, even churches and houses of worship must show the government that they hire and serve primarily people of their own faith and have the inculcation of religious values as their purpose.”

If you continue reading, it becomes clear that what we have going on here is a difference of definition. The White House says that “churches and other houses of worship” are exempt. The USCCB considers religious organizations, “schools, hospitals, universities, charitable institutions”, to be equivalent to “churches and other houses of worship”. The White House does not consider “schools, hospitals, universities, charitable institutions” to be equivalent to “churches and other houses of worship”.

The most controversial aspect of the entire birth control coverage debate has to do with people’s perceptions of whether or not drugs that cause abortions are included in the insurance coverage. Here is what the White House says about this issue:

“Drugs that cause abortion are not covered by this policy: Drugs like RU486 are not covered by this policy, and nothing about this policy changes the President’s firm commitment to maintaining strict limitations on Federal funding for abortions. No Federal tax dollars are used for elective abortions”.

The USCCB responds by saying “false”. They go on to say: “The policy already requires coverage of Ulipristal (HRP 2000 or “Ella”), a drug that is a close analogue to RU-486 (mifepristone) and has the same effects. RU-486 itself is also being tested as an “emergency contraceptive” – and if the FDA approves it for that purpose, it will automatically be mandated as well”.

I haven’t found anything that backs up the claim by the USCCB that RU-486 is being tested as an “emergency contraceptive” in the United States. I have found information about the drugs the USCCB mentioned.

Ulipristal is “used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse.” “This medication is to be used as an emergency contraceptive or backup in case regular birth control fails or is used incorrectly”. “It works by preventing or delaying the release of an egg from the ovary”.

RU-486 is also called Mifepristone. “Mifepristone is used alone or in combination with misoprostol (Cytotec) to end an early pregnancy.” “It works by blocking the activity of progesterone, a substance your body makes to help you continue a pregnancy”.

Image by landofnodstudios on Flickr

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