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States Debate: Viagra vs. Birth Control

Ever since insurance companies began offering coverage for the anti-impotency drug Viagra, womenís groups have worked harder than ever to win insurance coverage for contraceptive devices and are winning considerable support from many state and federal lawmakers.

The sponsor of contraceptive coverage legislation in California, Sen. Jackie Speier, commented that "the little blue pill (Viagra) gave the birth control pill thatís been around for 40 years great credibility as an issue, because itís so clearly juxtaposed. Viagra made any argument against mandated contraception coverage laughable. No one can really argue it with a straight face anymore."

Contraceptive coverage legislation would require insurance companies to cover birth control pills, intrauterine devices, diaphragms, Norplant, and Depo-Provera if they also cover other prescription drugs such as Viagra. Many legislators say that the acceptance of this bill in many state legislatures signifies the growing power of women in politics. Women are united, regardless of party lines, to ensure that this measure passes.

Opposition has come from the Roman Catholic Church, who opposes any form of contraception, as well as anti-abortion proponents and business and insurance companies.

The Democratic leader of the House of Representatives in Idaho, Wendy Jaquet, said, "Thereís a lot of influence the insurance companies have in our Legislature, and thereís a real concern about raising premiums. And itís hard to get across the argument that this is really prevention, and if you have a baby the insurance companies pay more."

Media Resources: New York Times - June 30, 1999



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