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May 15, 2013

Contraceptives and the Law: A View From a Catholic Medical Institution

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Creighton University School of Medicine and Creighton Center for Health Policy Ethics, Omaha, Nebraska.

JAMA. 2013;309(19):1999-2000. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.3730

Should religious-based organizations be required to provide contraceptive coverage?No.

The Obama Administration and the Catholic Church are in conflict over the implementation of provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590) requiring that all US Food and Drug Administration–approved contraceptive agents, not including abortifacients but including so-called morning after pills and sterilization procedures, be offered free of charge by all institutional insurance health plans, with no exception for institutions having religious objections. However, the Administration has compromised its initial directives, suggesting that insurers would have to offer free contraceptive coverage to individuals otherwise covered by such objecting institutions.1 These proposals are not of benefit to institutions that self-insure and do not exempt employers who have no clear association with religious institutions. Jost2 has discussed the purely legal disagreements between the Obama Administration and the Catholic Church; however, there has been little comment from a medical standpoint. As faculty members at the Creighton University School of Medicine—one of 4 Catholic medical schools in the United States—we question whether the public health benefits of mandated contraception coverage in the United States are so substantial that individuals and institutions should be forced to take actions that violate their collective moral conscience, thereby doing unnecessary harm to the principle of religious freedom.

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