Panel Recommends Free Birth Control

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A panel of health experts advising the government has recommended that birth control pills be offered to women in the U.S. at no upfront cost.

The Institute of Medicine panel says the government should require health insurance companies to cover birth control with no co-payment because it's considered preventive care.

"Without a doubt, under-served women and women of color tend to have greater barriers to accessing particular services with a co-pay," said Dr. Paula A. Johnson, IOM panel member and executive director of the Connors Center for Women's Health and Gender Biology. "So we believe as we have stated earlier that these recommendations are particularly important for those women."

Many social conservatives oppose the recommendation. They believe pregnancy is a healthy condition, and it's not up to the government to require insurance companies to prevent it.

The Family Research Council is also worried the changes would violate the rights of Americans who object to birth control on religious grounds.

"They should not be forced to have to pay into insurance plans that violate their consciences. Their conscience rights should be protected,'' said Jeanne Monahan, director of the FRC's Center for Human Dignity.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has to approve the IOM recommendations. The panel also suggested

The Affordable Care Act already requires that services like cancer screenings, vaccinations, and STD tests be paid for by insurers without out-of-pocket costs.

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