The Obama administration announced today that all health plans beginning in August 2012 or later will be required to cover birth control without a copay, part of a larger expansion of preventative services for women.
On the recommendation of Health and Human Services, the updated plans will also cover breast pumps for nursing mothers, yearly "well woman" checkups, and counseling for domestic violence. In addition to preventing disease and promoting overall health, the new requirements are being instituted "so that women can better avoid unwanted pregnancies and space their pregnancies to promote optimal birth outcomes," according to the Institute of Medicine.
Naturally, ignoring the seventy-eight percent of Americans who think the government should subsidize family-planning services, some faith-based groups are none too pleased about the new development and say that it would "essentially mandate coverage for abortion." Thus, religious institutions will be allowed to choose whether or not they cover contraception for employees.
It's a little annoying that this is even vaguely controversial, but still, an exciting day for women's healthcare.