As of yesterday, new and renewed private insurance plans will now have to cover contraception, according to a ruling from the Department of Health and Human Services. Given that population reduction is one of the best things we can do for the planet, this is awesome news — it removes the biggest financial barrier to people having only the number of kids they want and no more (or having no kids at all).
As Lisa Hymas wrote here on Grist:
One-third of women voters have struggled at some point with the cost of prescription birth control, according to a poll conducted last year for Planned Parenthood. And a 2009 survey [PDF] by the Guttmacher Institute found that 8 percent of American women sometimes didn't use birth control in order to save money; that includes 18 percent of women on the Pill who used it inconsistently in order to reduce costs.
No wonder nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended. Get your mind around that –half! Think of how much good could come from bringing down that percentage — happier and healthier women and families, more of our children born into welcoming homes, fewer abortions, less strain on our country's overtaxed infrastructure, fewer Americans exacerbating our environmental problems, and, according to Cullins, billions saved in our health-care system. Even if the only outcome were giving women control over their bodies and lives, that would be huge.
This is not going to keep us from hitting 7 billion population this year or anything. But anything that improves people's control over how many kids they want is good news for women, families, and the Earth.