Local groups are responding to the announcement that insurers by 2013 must fully cover the full cost of birth control and other prevention services for women.
The change, required by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, represents a step forward for women in the United States, according to Sarah Stoesz of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North and South Dakota. On average, women spend three decades of their lives trying to avoid pregnancy, she said.
"That is a considerable expense for women and comes right out of their pocketbooks," Stoesz said. "And when they're unable to avoid an unintended pregnancy, of course, there are other very significant costs as well, not only to the woman but to society as a whole."
The rules include an opt-out provision for religious institutions that oppose birth control.
The law will also cover other prevention services covered without co-pays including: annual "Well-woman" physicals, breast pumps for nursing mothers, screening for diabetes during pregnancy and counseling on domestic violence.
The Minnesota Family Council opposes the measure. The council's director Tom Prichard particularly opposes health plans covering "morning-after" pills, which the council views as abortion drugs.
"This is just going to heighten the debate over the controversy with the national health care plan, because it injected abortion into the whole issue," Prichard said.
The Federal Drug Administration has classified morning-after pills as birth control.