The XX Factor

A Fantastic Quote From the Ohio Republican Who Wants to Ban Insurance Coverage of IUDs

Not an abortion.

Photo by Image Point Fr/Shutterstock

Will Ohio women soon see their insurance coverage of IUDs stripped away? Hearings began this week for HB 351, a bill banning health care plans in the state from covering abortion, with the definition of “abortion” expanded well beyond the actual medical definition (a procedure “to end an established pregnancy”) to one that “includes drugs or devices used to prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum.”

The anti-choice movement has been claiming for awhile that hormonal contraception works this way, despite having no real evidence for that contention, so there were immediate concerns that HB 351 would be a back door way to ban insurance coverage of the pill. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. John Becker (R), hastily tried to put those fears to rest by assuring hearing attendees that he wasn’t out to ban birth control pill coverage and would be happy to amend the bill to clarify that point. No, there’s another contraception he’s eyeballing for the chopping block, one that just happens to be the single most effective contraceptive method available: the IUD. 

IUDs are effective not just because they are so good at preventing sperm from meeting egg, but also because they are user-friendly. You put it in once and don’t have to do anything else until you take it out again. No forgetting your pill, no drunkenly taking your chances without a condom this one time. IUDs are also considered among the most cost-effective over the long run, offering many years of coverage for what you would pay for a year or two of the pill. The problem is, unlike the pill, you have to pay all that money up front. If insurance doesn’t cover it, then a lot of women will be forced by economic necessity to go with less effective forms of contraception.  

Becker claims IUDs should be considered abortion because they prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg. No big surprise, but he’s wrong, and not just because preventing implantation is not considered “abortion” by medical science. It’s also because IUDs work by preventing sperm from reaching the egg. Mirena also stifles ovulation. They may have a secondary effect of preventing implantation, but, as with the pill, the evidence shows that non-contraception users “kill” a lot more fertilized eggs by callously menstruating them out. 

Becker addressed his lack of knowledge about science thusly: “This is just a personal view. I’m not a medical doctor.” 

This is what he said regarding a bill he sponsored that will interfere with women’s medical decisions. At least he’s honest! Indeed, the attacks on legal abortion and insurance coverage for both abortion and contraception begin with the premise that a woman’s medical care should be determined not by what she and her doctor decide based on the evidence, but on the “personal view” of some conservative politician who is usually pushing a religious agenda. Becker’s candor is refreshing.