Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student defending mandatory contraception and sterilization coverage in all health plans, is being hailed as a defender of women's rights. In fact, her position is dangerous to women.
The power to compel health insurers to provide contraceptives is the power to stop insurers from providing them. The Obama health law vastly expands the president’s power over your insurance plan, your doctors’ decisions, and your medical records. Not just this president, but every future president.
Why are women’s rights advocates so sure they will always agree with the person occupying the White House?
Sec. 1501 of the Obama health law requires nearly everyone to enroll in a “qualified” health plan or pay a penalty. “Qualified” means it is the government-designed plan covering what the Secretary of Health and Human Services decides are “essential benefits.”
Enrolling in a “qualified plan” will shield you from an IRS penalty but it will also mean the president has new control over your care. The secretary — a presidential appointee — makes the important decisions: what your health plan includes, how much it can cost, and even what your doctor can do.
Sec. 1311(h)(1) says “qualified plans” can pay only doctors and hospitals that follow the dictates of the secretary, who is empowered to impose any regulation to “improve healthcare quality.” That breathtakingly broad power could include everything — dictating when your cardiologist recommends a stent rather than a bypass, or whether your ob/gyn does a cesarean.
Your doctor will have to enter your treatments into an electronic database, your doctor’s decisions will be monitored for compliance with federal guidelines, and ultimately your doctor could have to choose between doing what’s right for you and avoiding a government penalty.
The powers given to presidential appointees to oversee medical care are intended to standardize medical practice. The federal government will be in charge, even if you are enrolled in a private health plan you’ve paid for yourself.
Until Obamacare, the public discussed interference in medical decisions largely in one context: abortion. When a lower federal court struck down the Partial Birth Abortion Act in 2004 ( a decision later reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court), Planned Parenthood President Gloria Feldt praised the ruling as a victory for patient privacy and freedom. “This ruling is a critical step toward ensuring that women and doctors — not politicians — can make private, personal healthcare decisions.” (June 5, 2003)
Women’s rights advocates need to assess the impact of the new law. How can it be that a woman is free to choose an abortion but not a hip replacement? Either your body is free from government interference or it isn’t.
During the Partial Birth Abortion Act battle, federal authorities requested access to women’s medical records to determine whether the procedure was medically necessary. Women’s rights groups defeated every request.
Yet today, many women’s rights groups support the Obama health law, which allows access to women’s records and dictates to their doctors. Whether you’re pro-choice or pro-life, you lose privacy under the law.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., accuses opponents of the contraceptives mandate of "efforts to extend the reach of the government into the bedroom." (Huffington Post, 3/4/2012)
To the contrary, it is the president's health law that broadens the powers of government over the individual, whether you're a woman or a man. In the doctor's examining room or your own room.
The issue is not a woman’s access to contraception. Under the Obama health law, insurance still will cover the cost of a woman’s visit to an ob/gyn to get a prescription. In fact, now there is no copay. Then she can walk into any drug store, and buy the product along with her mouthwash and toothpaste. She may have to pay out of pocket for the pills, but that’s a small price for freedom.
Don’t fall for the promise of “free” pills. Once the government dictates what you can have, the government can take it away. You don't have to be a Catholic to be threatened by that power.
Betsy McCaughey is president of Defend Your Healthcare and founder of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. She is the author of two histories of the U.S. Constitution, and New York's former lieutenant governor. Read more reports from Betsy McCaughey — Click Here Now.
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