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President Obama announces birth control policy

By: Katie Gile, Staff Writer

(Photo by Keri Weiland)


In a series of moves garnering attention across the country, President Barack Obama announced the implementation of a policy requiring private health insurance to provide preventative health services to women as the part of the Affordable Care Act Feb. 10.


A highly publicized aspect of this policy to take effect in August is the inclusion of birth control as an expense covered by insurance without charging a co-payment or deductible.


The original iteration of the policy required every employer, regardless of religious affiliation, to cover preventative screenings and birth control costs.


The new version exempts churches and other religious organizations from providing contraception coverage. It also creates a one-year transition period for the policy to take effect within those establishments, according to a White House press release.


The new regulation requires that if a woman’s nonexempt employer chooses not to provide coverage, the company’s insurance will cover the cost with “no role for religious employers who oppose contraception.”


The original and revised policy received some backlash from religious authorities who feel unheard.


“Certain bishops have looked at the new version of the policy warily,” said Carlos Gonzalez, President of UNF Catholic Ospreys. “Some think it’s fair, and others aren’t fond of it because it doesn’t make allowances for employers whose businesses employ non-Catholics but the employers themselves are [Catholic].”


Planned Parenthood was also caught in the web of controversy when the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation pulled its grants.


The decision, abuzz on social media sites, was reversed in a matter of days as support poured out for Planned Parenthood, said Planned Parenthood Florida President and CEO Staci Fox.


“We’re pleased that Komen took the time to listen to their supporters and tweaked their grant-making process to allow Planned Parenthood to be eligible,” Fox said. “The amount of coverage and social media around this story did a lot to elevate the importance of women’s health.”


Some, like Sheila Spivey, the director of the UNF Women’s Center, feel the abrupt public response to both Planned Parenthood and the policy within the Affordable Care Act are moving against women’s rights.


“The ground that we gained over the past few decades, it seems like we’re really having to fight to maintain it,” Spivey said. “Women should have complete control over their bodies and access to medical treatment, information and resources, as well as STD testing and birth control options.”


Because both organizations are “iconic for women’s wellness,” Spivey said, she was disappointed to see them “pitted against one another.”


In light of the new provisions to take place in August, the availability of birth control may change slightly, if indirectly, at UNF.


Doreen Perez, Director of UNF Student Health Services, said although UNF offers the Depo Provera birth control shot, common forms like the pill or intrauterine devices — like Mirena or Paraguard — are unavailable on campus because UNF lacks the means to offer them.


When UNF opened its now-closed pharmacy as a part of the clinic in Student Health Services, officials found the market too difficult to stay competitive. Though UNF no longer fills prescriptions on campus, students can still receive prescription writs and pelvic exams.


“It had nothing to do with the fact that it was birth control we were offering because when the pharmacy shut down we also stopped providing things like antibiotics,” Perez said.


Gonzalez said he doesn’t think the act will change much for UNF on-campus life.


“A lot of people at UNF probably use contraceptives as it is, so having it more easily available or less expensive won’t make much of a difference,” Gonzalez said.


Perez said she also doesn’t expect the act to affect much at UNF but said it could influence the number of students who decide to purchase health insurance.


The act is most useful for individuals with insurance and, ideally, makes insurance more affordable, so students may be more inclined to take advantage of that option, Perez said.


“We understand how important coverage is,” Perez said. “That’s why, during our negotiations for next year, we’re going to work hard to get [affordable health insurance] for our students.”


Email Katie Gile at [email protected]


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