Make life-sav­ing drugs free, not birth con­trol

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion -

The dis­cus­sion of the Obama birth con­trol man­date misses three key points:

First, Amer­ica has a long his­tory of ac­com­mo­dat­ing re­li­gious ob­jec­tions. For ex­am­ple, dur­ing both world wars, Quaker draftees who ob­jected to war were granted non­com­bat as­sign­ments, and to­day Mus­lim prison in­mates are of­fered ha­lal meals. Mak­ing these ac­com­mo­da­tions is an es­sen­tial part of Amer­i­can civil lib­erty. Why, then, not a com­pro­mise on birth con­trol cov­er­age that al­lows Catholic or­ga­ni­za­tions to opt out of in­clud­ing birth con­trol in their health care plans in ex­change for lower pre­mi­ums or lower co-pays on other pro­ce­dures?

Sec­ond, if the ad­min­is­tra­tion can tram­ple a ven­er­a­ble in­sti­tu­tion like the Catholic Church, it can tram­ple any of us at any time. The brute strength of the law makes a mock­ery of rule-mak­ing due process. Fu­ture de­ci­sions on which med­i­cal con­di­tions are el­i­gi­ble for health care cov­er­age could be based on noth­ing more than po­lit­i­cal pa­tron­age. Amer­i­cans who suf­fer from con­di­tions that lack deep-pock­eted sup­port­ers could be left in the lurch. This kind of power is un­ac­cept­able in Amer­ica.

Third, “women’s health” in­cludes more than birth con­trol. Women in Amer­ica who suf­fer from, for ex­am­ple, can­cer, high blood pres­sure, high choles­terol, asthma and mul­ti­ple sclero­sis take med­i­ca­tions ev­ery day just to stay alive. Women who suf­fer from con­di­tions like glau­coma, os­teo­poro­sis and de­bil­i­tat­ing arthri­tis pain take med­i­ca­tions ev­ery day to main­tain qual­ity of life. These med­i­ca­tions have co­pays that, in some cases, are steep — and many women take more than one daily med­i­ca­tion.

Yet for some rea­son, un­der Oba­macare, birth con­trol would be free. In other words, drugs that treat high blood pres­sure and may pro­long life by 30 years con­tinue to be ex­pen­sive, while birth con­trol is free. This is di­abol­i­cal. How about re­duc­ing co-pays on med­i­ca­tions that ex­tend life and in­stead im­pose a co-pay on birth con­trol? SUE D. ARNOLD Ar­ling­ton

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