U.S. group urges free birth control

July 19, 2011 at 9:25 PM

WASHINGTON, July 19 (UPI) -- The independent Institute of Medicine recommended Tuesday that all birth control for women be provided free under U.S. health insurance plans.

The committee of the non-profit organization recommended all health insurance plans should be required to offer female patients free -- no deductibles or co-payments -- coverage of prescription birth control, breast-pump rentals, counseling for domestic violence, annual wellness exams and human immunodeficiency virus tests, The Washington Post reported.

The Institute of Medicine's panel conducted its review and recommendations at the request of Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

HHS officials said Sebelius is expected to make a decision on the recommendations and proposed regulations soon.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, chairman of the committee on pro-life activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said he is against the institute's recommendation.

"I strongly oppose the Institute of Medicine's recommendation that HHS mandate coverage of three particular practices in almost all private health plans: surgical sterilization; all Food and Drug Administration-approved birth control -- including the IUD, "morning-after" pills and the abortion-inducing drug Ella" -- and education and counseling for women of reproductive capacity," DiNardo said.

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