Even IUDs Are “Abortion” Now


An Ohio Republican is trying to limit women’s access to long-term birth control. Elizabeth Nolan Brown ridicules his reasoning:

The first hearing for House Bill 351, sponsored by Cincinnati Republican Rep. John Becker, was held yesterday. At the hearing, Becker said insurance plans should be barred from covering IUDs because preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg—which IUDs could theoretically do, though they primarily work by preventing sperm from getting to that egg in the first place—could be considered abortion. “This is just a personal view. I’m not a medical doctor,” he added.

Sound policy reasoning there, Rep! Becker also acknowledged the wording of the bill could be interpreted to ban coverage of birth control pills, too, but he hadn’t intended it that way. He’s not a medical doctor, remember, just someone trying to play one with the weight of the state behind him. Under H.B. 351, all insurance plans in Ohio would be barred from offering abortion coverage. This isn’t a ban on “taxpayer funded abortions” we’re talking about—it’s an explicit restriction on the kinds of legal services that private insurance companies (and by extension, employers who offer health plans) can offer. Conservatives decry this sort of thing vociferously when it’s Obama making every insurance company and employer cover certain services.

German Lopez illustrates the bill’s folly with the above chart: 

The bill, in other words, attempts to stop women, particularly low-income women, from using one of the most effective, practical forms of birth control.

The only exemption in the bill is for ectopic pregnancies, which could threaten the life of the mother. Pregnancies involving rape, incest, and other life-threatening circumstances would not be exempted. Becker’s bill isn’t the first time Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature has moved to restrict abortions. In the latest state budget, Republicans approved a slew of measures that will, among other things, allow state officials to more easily shut down abortion clinics.

Tara Culp-Ressler highlights the impact the bill would have on poor women in particular:

The unintended pregnancy rate for women living below the poverty level is more than five times as high than the rate for the women in the highest income level, largely because they struggle to access affordable birth control. Since long-lasting forms of birth control like the IUD remain effective for years without the need to take a daily pill or a monthly shot, public health experts recommend them for women who struggle with avoiding pregnancy. But IUDs are expensive, and can cost as much as $1,000 upfront. A large 2012 study focusing on low-income women in St. Louis found that when cost barriers to IUDs are removed, more women choose them and fewer women end up needing abortions.