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Today, Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) and other anti-women’s health members in the House again pushed their ideological agenda against birth control and women’s health care. During a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing, Pitts made clear his opposition to the recent decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that ensures health plans will cover preventive care, including birth control with no co-pays. In pushing to overturn this preventive care provision, Rep. Pitts ignores the fact that millions of women and families will benefit from improved access to affordable birth control. 

Dr. Mark Hathaway, director of ob/gyn outreach services for Women's and Infants' Services at the Washington Hospital Center, testified in support of covering birth control, saying, “I see every day how increasing women’s ability to plan their pregnancies makes a difference in their lives. And by the same token, I also see the negative consequences of unintended and unplanned pregnancy, late prenatal care, uncontrolled medical problems, poor nutrition, and sometimes depression.”

During the hearing, Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA) echoed the frustration many of her constituents have with the latest efforts to restrict women’s health, stating, “My constituents tell me we should be spending our time on jobs and the economy, not blocking women’s access to contraceptive services.”

To show the grassroots support of the preventive care provision, Planned Parenthood Action Fund live-tweeted during today’s hearing.  Numerous supporters re-tweeted Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s live-tweeting and followed the #bcrefusal hashtag.  Supporters not only spoke out in favor of the preventive care provision, but many also shared their own personal stories on how access to birth control helped them avoid an unplanned pregnancy or how it even helped save their life. 

The most popular re-tweeted message was, “@ppact: Hard to believe it’s 2011 and we’re arguing over access to birth control right now. #bcrefusal”

“Obviously, the elimination of birth control as a preventive benefit would have serious real-life consequence for millions of women around the country,” said Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

It’s important to highlight that birth control use is nearly universal in the United States:  99 percent of sexually experienced women will have used birth control at some point in their lives, including 98 percent of sexually experienced Catholic women. And numerous studies including recommendations by the respected Institute of Medicine demonstrate that birth control usage improves maternal health.

Seventy-one percent of American voters, including 77 percent of Catholic women voters and 72 percent of Republican women, support health plans covering birth control without co-pays.

Unfortunately, anti-women’s health members of Congress have been quick in their attempts to take attack the preventive care provision and take this groundbreaking benefit away.  As NPR reported, conservatives are stepping up their attacks against birth control as “more and more voices are opposing the provision of birth control for its own sake.”

The current women’s preventive provision already includes an unfair refusal clause that exempts certain religious employers from offering this essential coverage to their employees.


Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains empowers individuals and families in the communities we serve to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health by providing high quality health services, comprehensive sex education, and strategic advocacy. More than 123,000 women, men, and young adults annually visit our 28 health centers throughout Colorado, New Mexico, Southern Nevada, and Wyoming. Since 1916, we have been the region’s most trusted provider of reproductive health care. For more information about Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, call 1.800.230.PLAN or visit pprm.org for the health center nearest you.


Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, Inc.


Monica McCafferty


November 02, 2011