O'Reilly: "Birth control is not a medical condition, it is a choice"July 20, 2008 7:44 PM EDT ››› LILY YAN
As the blog Think Progress noted, on the July 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, while discussing the issue of whether health insurance plans that cover Viagra should also cover birth control, host Bill O'Reilly asserted: "Viagra is used to help a medical condition -- that's why it's covered. Birth control is not a medical condition, it is a choice. Why should I or anybody else have to pay for other people's choices?" But O'Reilly's assertion is contradicted by professional medical associations that have stated that pregnancy is a medical condition and that "[c]ontraception is medically necessary" for women.
O'Reilly made his comment after airing a Planned Parenthood Action Fund ad that included a clip of Sen. John McCain being asked: "It's unfair how the insurance companies cover Viagra but not birth control. Do you have an opinion on that?" McCain responded: "I don't know enough about it to give you an informed answer." During the segment, O'Reilly also said: "Do I have to buy you dinner before you use the birth control? Give me and every other taxpayer a break, Planned Parenthood."
Dr. Luella Klein, former president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and then-director of ACOG's women's health issues, was quoted in a May 12, 1998, USA Today article as saying: "Pregnancy is a medical condition, just like impotence. And the cost benefit of preventing pregnancy is much greater than treating impotence." In addition, ACOG's "Contraceptive Equity Toolkit" states that "[m]ost women can become pregnant from the time they are teenagers until they are in their late forties" and that "[c]ontraception is medically necessary to a woman for more than 30 years of her life." The Toolkit added: "To ignore the health benefits of contraception is to say that the alternative of 12 to 15 pregnancies during a woman's lifetime is medically acceptable."
Further, in a May 8, 2007, press release, ACOG stated that "contraception is basic, preventive health care and should be readily available and treated the same as prophylactic therapies for other medical conditions."
Additionally, according to the American Medical Association (AMA) Statement on Family and Medical Leave: "AMA supports policies that provide employees with reasonable job security and continued availability of health plan benefits in the event leave by an employee becomes necessary due to documented medical conditions. Such policies should provide for reasonable periods of paid or unpaid: (1) medical leave for the employee, including pregnancy" [emphases added].
Further, Think Progress quoted from a statement by the National Women's Law Center (NWLC), which states that "[a]ccess to contraception is critical to preventing unintended pregnancies and to enabling women to control the timing and spacing of their pregnancies, which in turn reduces the incidence of maternal death, low birth weight babies, and infant mortality." The NWLC added that the "exclusion of prescription contraceptives from health insurance coverage unfairly disadvantages women by singling out for unfavorable treatment a health insurance need that only they have."
From the July 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: On a similar subject, the Planned Parenthood fanatics want you and me to pay for everybody's birth control, so they use John McCain to make that point.
[begin video clip]
ANNOUNCER: Ever use birth control? Then you'll want to hear this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's unfair how the insurance companies cover Viagra but not birth control. Do you have an opinion on that?
McCAIN: I don't know enough about it to give you a informed answer.
ANNOUNCER: Planned Parenthood Action Fund is responsible for the content of this advertising, because women deserve quality, affordable health care.
[end video clip]
O'REILLY: OK, listen up. Viagra is used to help a medical condition -- that's why it's covered. Birth control is not a medical condition, it is a choice. Why should I or anybody else have to pay for other people's choices? Do I have to buy you dinner before you use the birth control? Give me and every other taxpayer a break, Planned Parenthood.