Non-Clinical Topics   /   News

White House Positions on Contraceptives Fuel Controversy on All Sides

USM By U.S. Medicine
February 17, 2012

By Stephen Spotswood

WASHINGTON — Controversy over access to birth control is continuing with the Department of Health and Human Services’ recent decision to cover birth control as a preventive service under the Affordable Care Act.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) called the Obama Administration’s decision “literally unconscionable,” with the group’s president, cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York saying, “Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn’t happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights.”

The Obama administration announced last month that it would give Catholic hospitals and other religious institutions an extra year to comply with a new requirement that most health plans provide contraceptive benefits at no cost to their members. Yet, in her announcement, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held the line on the administration’s position that most health plans must eventually offer free contraception, exempting only a few types of religious institutions.

Wayne C. Shields, president and CEO of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP), which represents 12,000 reproductive health care providers, researchers, and educators, said, “Contraception is basic health care and fundamental to women’s health and the health of their families. Our members are proud to stand with the administration in rejecting the political pressure to expand the religious employer exemption in providing contraceptive coverage. This is a victory for science-based decision making and for the millions of women employed by religious institutions across this country.”

Interestingly, Sebelius’ supporters in this decision, such as the AHRP, were her angry detractors at the end of 2011 when she blocked the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill from being sold over the counter (OTC), overruling the recommendations made by FDA officials.

 In fact, Shields recently joined with other contraceptive industry advocates in asking the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology to determine the basis for the administration’s controversial decision to continue requiring that girls under age 17 must obtain a prescription to receive the morning after pill.

That was  the latest in a long line of controversial decisions surrounding Plan B. In February 2011, Teva Women’s Health Inc. submitted a supplemental new drug application to FDA seeking to make the Plan B One-Step available OTC for all girls of reproductive age. Currently, Plan B One-Step is available OTC for women 17 and older.  

In its Summary Review for Regulatory Action for the drug, FDA recommended approval of the application. After reviewing FDA’s approval, Sebelius indicated that she felt otherwise.

“The switch from prescription to over the counter for this product requires that we have enough evidence to show that those who use this medicine can understand the label and use the product appropriately,” Sebelius said in a statement following the announcement of her decision. “I do not believe that Teva’s application met that standard. The label comprehension and actual use studies did not contain data for all ages for which this product would be available for use.”


Related Articles

Engineer Seeks to Make VAMCs More Energy Efficient Without Interrupting Their Mission

WASHINGTON—Anyone who’s ever worked in a hospital knows how much energy a facility of that size consumes. From the electricity to keep the lights on and the technology running to the water used to keep everything sterile, medical facilities can be far from energy efficient.

GAO: Applications for VHA Healthcare Benefits Frequently Mishandled

VHA does not have the right protocols in place to ensure applications for enrollment are processed in a timely manner or that enrollment determinations are accurate, according to a new report.


U.S. Medicine Recommends


More From hhs and usphs

Department of Defense (DoD)

Telemedicine Allows Army, Indian Health Service to Expand Range of Diabetes Care

To reach the growing number of individuals in their care who have diabetes, both the Army and the Indian Health Service have aggressively adopted telemedicine

Pharmacists Play Big Role in More-Restrictive IHS Opioid Prescribing Rules

SYRACUSE, NY — Despite limited evidence to support the practice, testing for Helicobacter pylori (Hp) infection is recommended for work-up of unexplained iron deficiency anemia (IDA). A study published in the journal Gastroenterology Report sought... View Article

Study Determines Patients Most Vulnerable to E. Coli H30

SYRACUSE, NY — Despite limited evidence to support the practice, testing for Helicobacter pylori (Hp) infection is recommended for work-up of unexplained iron deficiency anemia (IDA). A study published in the journal Gastroenterology Report sought... View Article

HHS and USPHS

Stroke Kills Young American Indian/Alaska Natives at Twice Rate of Whites

SYRACUSE, NY — Despite limited evidence to support the practice, testing for Helicobacter pylori (Hp) infection is recommended for work-up of unexplained iron deficiency anemia (IDA). A study published in the journal Gastroenterology Report sought... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Uniformed Pharmacists Take Half of Next Generation Pharmacist Awards

SYRACUSE, NY — Despite limited evidence to support the practice, testing for Helicobacter pylori (Hp) infection is recommended for work-up of unexplained iron deficiency anemia (IDA). A study published in the journal Gastroenterology Report sought... View Article

Facebook Comment

Subscribe to U.S. Medicine Print Magazine

U.S. Medicine is mailed free each month to physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and administrators working for Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and U.S. Public Health Service.

Subscribe Now

Receive Our Email Newsletter

Stay informed about federal medical news, clinical updates and reports on government topics for the federal healthcare professional.

Sign Up