Congresswoman: We’re Not ‘Promoting Sterilization’ of College Girls, We're Just Making It Free

March 19, 2012 - 5:40 PM

Rep. Jan Schakowsky

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D.-Ill.)

(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D.-Ill.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee which has oversight over the Affordable Care Act (AKA "Obamacare"), said Monday that a new Obamacare regulation announced on Friday afternoon that requires all student health insurance plans to offer college women free sterilizations does not mean the government is “promoting sterilization.”

“This isn’t about promoting sterilization,” said Rep. Schakowsky said. “No one--there aren’t college girls lining up to become sterilized because they feel like it.”

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D.-Calif.) said critics of the regulation were making “outlandish statements,” and that the mandate was designed “so a woman can, in consultation with her physician, can make a very serious decision.”

The regulation that the Department of Health and Human Services announced on Friday says that all student health plans offered by colleges in the United States must provide the same cost-free "preventive services" that the administration announced in a final regulation released last month will be required in virtually all other health plans sold in the United States.

The mandate, according to HHS, requires that the insurance plans provide without any fees or co-pay: "All Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity."

Schakowsky, Becerra, Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (D-Conn.), Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), and Barbara Easterling, the President of the Alliance for Retired Americans, held a conference call with reporters on Monday to mark the upcoming second anniversary of the enactment of Obamacare.

During the conference call, CNSNews.com asked: “Do you support the HHS regulation that requires health insurance companies to provide free sterilizations to college-age women who want them?”

Rep. Schakowsky said: “You know, this attack on women’s health care is--I think the compromise that the president has offered and that the rulemaking from HHS, I think, is a good one. This is not about, you know, college-age girls getting sterilization when they want it--no.”

obama sebelius

President Barack Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. (AP Photo)

“I mean, there may be situations where for medical reasons and in consultation with the doctor that sterilization procedures are warranted for the health of a young woman,” said Schakowsky.

“Contraception and related procedures, contraception was declared one of the top 10 preventive health services of the 20th century by the Centers for Disease Control," said Schakowsky, "and the reason for these regulations is to protect the health of women, women of all ages, so that they can afford to get the preventive care that they need.”

“This isn’t about promoting sterilization,” she said of the regulation that guarantees free sterilizations.  “No one -- there aren’t college girls lining up to become sterilized because they feel like it.  And we’re talking about medical procedures.”

As CNSNews.com reported, HHS announced the student-health-plan regulation late on Friday and released a request-for-comments document on how the student-health-plan regulation would be implemented that specifically stated that the regulation would "require coverage, without cost sharing, for ‘[a]ll Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity,’ as prescribed by a provider."

During the conference call, Rep. Xavier Becerra also offered his support for the regulation and responded to CNSNews.com's question by criticizing opponents of the regulation for advancing what he called “stereotypes” and “misinformation” about the president’s health care law.

“Now when they [critics] talk about sterilization, you and I know that they’re trying to build this up into something that it isn’t,” said Becerra. “I think Jan clarified very well what the purpose of the HHS rulemaking is. It’s so a woman can, in consultation with her physician, can make a very serious decision. It’s not one of these fly-by-night activities that a woman would do without thinking long and hard.”

“So, I hope the press will help us avoid these types of stereotypes and this misrepresentation that’s occurring with regard to the actions and the legislation that’s out there,” said Becerra, “because it gives the American public this wrong perception that there, in fact, are death panels, or that the government did take over our health care, or that jobs were killed by the passage of the ACA.”

“That’s the farthest thing from the truth,” he said.  “And I hope you all are out there trying to make sure that you’re passing along information -- truthful information -- and probing when folks start to make those kind of statements, which you and I know are intended to misrepresent and to deceive the American public.”

Although surgical sterilization is less common among college-age women than older women, it does occur, even in the pre-Obamacare era when the federal government has not guaranteed that college-age women could be sterilized for free.

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s report, “Use of Contraception in the United States: 1982-2008,”  among women ages 20-24, who are using contraception, 2.4 percent have been sterilized.  Among those aged 25-29, who are using contraception, 15.0 percent have been sterilized.

During the call, Rep. Becerra also said: “I just will add one quick point here and, Elizabeth, I hope you in the media and the rest of the folks in the press will help us with something.

“When I mentioned [earlier], for example, that almost 500,000 new jobs were created in the health care sector since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, I wasn’t making that number up,” he said.

“You can verify that number. 488,000 jobs have been created in the health care industry in the last two years,” he said.  “When someone says to you there’s been a government take over of health care, there are death panels, or that the Affordable Care Act is a job killer, it would help if the press were to probe a little further when folks make these outlandish statements.”