Final Steps Taken to Ensure Universal Contraceptive Coverage

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The Obama administration has just announced that in its proposed policies for Obamacare, contraceptive coverage will be provided to women employed by religious organizations. 

Many religious organizations forbid contraceptive coverage, but this proposed policy would enable all women, regardless of employer, to obtain contraceptives. 

"This is very much what the administration spelled out a year ago," Adam Sonfield, a Senior Public Policy Associate at the Guttmacher Institute, said. "There is a religious exemption for churches and other purely religious organizations. There's also an accommodation for a broader range of nonprofit organizations that put themselves out as being religious."

Sonfield explained that the proposals would "set up a mechanism to make the accommodation work so that the employers wouldn't have to touch contraception in any way. They won't have to contract for it. They won't have to talk to their employees about it. They won't have to pay for it."

Under the policy, a "third party issuer" would handle issues related to birth control. The coverage will be "seamless and automatic" through a "small, separate policy," usually with their own insurer. 

Many organizations have backed the proposal. 

Planned Parenthood released a statement that said: 

“This policy delivers on the promise of women having access to birth control without co-pays no matter where they work. Of course, we are reviewing the technical aspects of this proposal, but the principle is clear and consistent. This policy makes it clear that your boss does not get to decide whether you can have birth control.”

Religious pressure groups, like the Catholic Association, Family Research Council, and Southern Poverty Law Center, have objected to it. FRC spokeswoman Anna Higgins said, "The accounting gimmicks HHS is now proposing under the latest regulation fail to satisfy the religious freedom protections that exist in other current laws and in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution."