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A woman already knows how important family planning is to her health and well-being.  She knows that the decision of whether and when to have a child is extremely personal, and she makes that decision based on many factors, including: her age, the presence of a partner, the size of her family, her physical and mental health, and her personal values. 

A woman knows that if she has a chronic disease, pregnancy prevention is critical in reducing poor birth outcomes.  She knows, for example, that she risks her health and the health of her fetus if she has diabetes and becomes pregnant before getting her glucose levels under control.  She knows that if her blood pressure is uncontrolled during pregnancy, she could develop Pre-Eclampsia, a condition that can require immediate delivery even if the fetus is not full-term.  And she knows that if she becomes pregnant while taking any number of commonly prescribed medications contra-indicated for pregnancy, fetal development may be impaired.

That’s why women overwhelmingly support birth control.  Indeed, contraceptive use is nearly universal: 99 percent of women 15-44 years of age who have ever had sexual intercourse with a male have used at least one contraceptive method.  The overwhelming majority of sexually active women of all religious denominations who do not want to become pregnant are using a contraceptive method. 

Refusal clauses fly in the face of women’s needs, scientific evidence, and medical standards of care.  Refusal clauses undermine and ignore the personalized decisions that all people make about their health.

The Administration should respect the decisions of women and their families, and hold firm on its commitment to improve the health of all Americans by basing its health care decisions on science and medical practice – not politics.

Spitzer is executive director National Health Law Program.