The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is a piece of federal legislation signed into law by President Obama. A provision in the PPACA will require that “group health plans and health insurers completely cover various preventive services”, such as vaccines, screenings, counseling services and, most controversially, contraceptives for women. The idea behind preventive services is that we as a country will save money if we catch and treat conditions that could otherwise go unnoticed and become emergency room-type issues. The same logic is used in considering contraceptive services keeping women from having unplanned pregnancies. Twenty-eight states already have health insurers covering contraceptives.
As of late, there has been much debate as to the legitimacy and appropriateness of this legislation. Religious groups — most outspokenly the Catholic Church – feel that, by requiring the group health plans and health insurers to cover contraceptives, the government is violating their freedom of religion. The bill exempts “religious employers,” but such a scope is, in the eyes of critics, too narrow as it does not cover religious hospitals, universities, or charities. Critics of the bill are arguing that to offer something which they actively condone is infringing on their religious rights. Recently, the Obama administration proposed a compromise that would make insurers of the institutions responsible for providing free coverage of contraceptives to those employees that want it. Though some have accepted the compromise, others still vehemently disagree, calling this law Obama’s “war on religion.”
1) Do you think contraception should be free, why or why not?
2) What do you think this issue is about? Contraception? Religious freedom? Women’s rights? Something else entirely?
3 )Do you think this is a violation of church and state?
4) Do think the Obama administration concessions make a difference?
5) What are some possible unintended outcomes if this legislation stands? If more concessions are made?
6) We talk a lot in this class about underlying values; do you think there are any biases present in this debate?
7) Should both men and women be covered by insurance for contraceptives?
8) Are there other points or considerations that should be added to this debate?