Thanks to an Obamacare regulation that took effect on Aug. 1, health care plans in Oregon will now be required to provide free sterilizations to 15- year-old girls even if the parents of those girls do not consent to the procedure.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius finalized the regulation earlier this year.
It says that all health care plans in the United States–except those provided by actual houses of worship organized under the section of the Internal Revenue Code reserved for churches per se–must provide coverage, without cost-sharing, for sterilizations and all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives to “all women with reproductive capacity.”
In practical terms, “all women with reproductive capacity” means girls as young as about 12. That, according to the National Institutes of Health, is when girls usually start menstruating.
When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act–a.k.a. Obamacare–was enacted in March 2010 it included (in Section 2713) a non-specific requirement that health care plans must provide “additional preventive services” to women. These unspecified “additional preventive services,” the law said, were to be “provided for in comprehensive guidelines supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration,” a division of the Department of Health and Human Services.
In developing the regulation to define these “additional preventive services,” HHS commissioned a federally funded committee at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to recommend what they should to be.
In July 2011, this committee issued a report that said: “The committee recommends for consideration as a preventive service for women: the full range of Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for women with reproductive capacity.”
The committee report said that “with reproductive capacity” meant “from the time of menarche to menopause.” Menarche is the beginning of menstruation–again, on average, about the age of 12 for American women.
On Aug. 1, 2011, HHS announced that it was adopting the IOM committee’s recommendation almost verbatim. In fact, it added just one word–placing “all” in front of “women with reproductive capacity.”