Statement from Patricia McGeown, UHPP President/CEO
Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood is pleased to hear that the Obama administration has affirmed the importance of women's access to birth control. In response to mounting concerns-and quite honestly an alarming misinformation campaign mounted by opponents of women's health-this administration has issued new regulations that should put to rest the objections of religious entities who have refused to provide birth control coverage-while still ensuring all women have access to this important benefit, regardless of where they work.
Under the proposal that was announced today, which will be issued in forthcoming rules, "religious organizations" will not have to directly provide birth control coverage, subsidize the cost of birth control, or refer for birth control. Instead, the administration will ensure employees have access to birth control by requiring the employer's health plan to provide birth control coverage to those women free-of-charge. The administration has conveyed that there will be no additional administrative burden on women who access the benefit through their health plan.
In New York State, this could have the important effect of increasing access to birth control for thousands of employees. While a law passed ten years ago in New York requires all employers, including religious institutions, with New York State issued insurance policies to include coverage of birth control, many large employers with multi-state insurance policies are currently excluded. The new regulations will apply to all employers, with the very narrow exception addressing churches. In addition, the Obama regulations would require that insurance providers provide birth control at no cost.
We believe the proposal outlined today should ensure that women who work for religiously-affiliated entities will have seamless access to the birth control coverage benefit. However, Women are Watching! The proof will be in the details and the implementation. Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood and all those who are concerned with women's health will remain vigilant in working to hold the administration and health plans accountable to this standard.