On a cynical level, the release of these regulations may have been timed in an attempt to lessen the progressive anger on the recent (awful) debt deal. Also, by using this "culture war" issue, it shifts the discussion from the raised debt ceiling to birth control and sex - a far more media-accessible topic. I have no evidence of this at all; however, I think it's a reasonable hypothesis.
UPDATE: The ACLU is spot-on:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced new guidelines in Washington Monday requiring health insurance plans beginning on or after August 1, 2012 to cover several women's preventive services, including birth control and voluntary sterilization.
According to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius the decision is a part of the Affordable Care Act's move to stop problems before they start.
"These historic guidelines are based on science and existing literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need," she said in a news release.
In July, the Institute of Medicine issued the results of a scientific review of women's health needs and provided recommendations on specific preventive measures to help them. Today HHS approved those recommendations.
|A major victory for sexual progressiveness.|
Besides contraceptive use, the list includes free screenings for conditions such as gestational diabetes and the human papillomavirus (HPV), as well as breastfeeding support and counseling on sexually transmitted diseases. The full list is available on the Department of Health and Human Services website. […]
[Opponents] feel the decision forces people to participate who may have moral or religious convictions that oppose contraception use. […]
However, supporters say the service will help millions of women who struggle to afford prescription birth control.
|There's still quite a way to go, but this is a major success.|
"Covering birth control without co-pays is one of the most important steps we can take to prevent unintended pregnancy and keep women and children healthy," said Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America when the IOM recommendations were released.
Supporters also say covering contraception helps the government save money up front.This is a major victory for progressive feminists in the United States. It will save a good amount of money, provide access to millions of people, and foster a correct attitude toward sexuality. There is still quite a way to go – establishing a universal health care system, providing more reproductive services for free, abolishing the Hyde Amendment – but this is still a major victory.
According to an analysis from the Guttmacher Institute, in 2006, of the 2 million publicly funded births, 51% resulted from unintended pregnancies, accounting for more than $11 billion in costs.
UPDATE: The ACLU is spot-on:
“Contraception is basic health care for women,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office. “Today’s landmark decision means affordable, effective contraception will no longer be out of reach for millions of women. Secretary Sebelius is acting in the best interests of American women, counteracting discriminatory practices denying women access to essential health care.”
The Department of Health and Human Services is considering a proposal creating an opt-out from contraceptive coverage for certain religious entities. The ACLU remains committed to comprehensive access for women and will work to ensure that as this process goes forward, women’s health remains the primary concern, and women are not subjected to religious dictates that are not their own.