The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that beginning next year, all insurance plans must provide a wider range of services to women, including coverage for all Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved contraceptives. These include drugs that pro-life groups call "abortion-inducing drugs." The Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land called the decision "an abomination." However, since 29 states already require contraception coverage, many Americans already belong to insurance prescription plans that cover these medications.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed last year will expand the requirement to the entire country, requiring that all insurance policies provide preventative services. As in the states that already require coverage, preventative services would include all FDA-approved contraceptive methods. The Health and Human Services ruling would go further, however, since insurance companies would be required to provide contraception with no copayment.
The controversy over the ruling mostly revolves around two contraceptives approved by the FDA, ella (ulipristal acetate) and Plan B (levonorgestre). These drugs work by making it unlikely that an embryo will be able to attach to the wall of the uterus.
— Pregnancy is a condition of the mother, beginning when the embryo attaches to the uterine wall.
— Contraception lowers the chances of pregnancy; it includes medication that blocks fertilization, but also drugs that prohibit a pregnancy after conception.
— Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy. A drug that works before the embryo attaches to mother is contraception; one that occurs after pregnancy starts is an abortifacient.
Drugs such as ella and Plan B are approved for contraceptive use because they prevent pregnancy. According to the FDA, the drugs are emergency contraceptives that should be taken within five days of "a contraceptive failure or unprotected intercourse." They are not intended as routine contraceptives. Women who suspect that they are pregnant are advised to not take the drug.
Richard Land from the SBC dismissed such definitions. The issue, said Land, was the ending of the embryo, not the pregnancy.
"The 'medical field' is attempting to define something far above its pay grade. God has already made it clear in Holy Scripture that human life begins at conception, or fertilization, and all of the unique, biological characteristics of that particular child are determined at the moment of conception, not implantation (Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:1316, Psalm 51:5). The use of taxpayers' money to fund killing such babies is an abomination," Land said.
Americans United for Life staff counsel Anna Franzonello testified before the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which made the recommendations to Health and Human Services. Franzonello argued against the inclusion of such drugs in the list of preventative services because they may work after pregnancy begins.
"The IOM recommendation would make the abortion inducing drug ella part of the health care coverage that every American will be forced to buy. Despite the fact that ella can kill a human embryo even after implantation, the [FDA] has labeled the drug as emergency contraception," Franzonello said. "This really was a one-two punch by the FDA and IOM to force all Americans to pay for the abortion-inducing drug."