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For ten years now, the state of Georgia has been under the exclusive control of Republicans. Republican governor, Republican-controlled house of representatives and a Republican-controlled senate. All statewide offices are filled by Republicans, including the Office of Secretary of State, currently held by Brian Kemp who allowed the recent birther hearing to go forward, previously held by Karen Handel of recent Komen Foundation/Planned Parenthood fame. And to our eternal shame, we birthed Newt Gingrich upon the rest of the country. Our conservative bona fides are unassailable.

Yet, we (quite inconveniently for the current narrative) have this law on the books:

Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 33-24-59.6

Legislative Declaration Regarding Contraception; Coverage for Contraceptives.

(a) The General Assembly finds and declares that:

(1) Maternal and infant health are greatly improved when women have access to contraceptive supplies to prevent unintended pregnancies;

(2) Because many Americans hope to complete their families with two or three children, many women spend the majority of their reproductive lives trying to prevent pregnancy;

(3) Research has shown that 49 percent of all large group insurance plans do not routinely provide coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices. While virtually all health care plans cover prescription drugs generally, the absence of prescription contraceptive coverage is largely responsible for the fact that women spend 68 percent more in out-of-pocket expenses for health care than men; and

(4) Requiring insurance coverage for prescription drugs and devices for contraception is in the public interest in improving the health of mothers, children, and families and in providing for health insurance coverage which is fairer and more equitable.

(b) As used in this Code section, the term:

(1) "Health benefit policy" means any individual or group plan, policy, or contract for health care services issued, delivered, issued for delivery, or renewed in this state, including those contracts executed by the State of Georgia on behalf of state employees under Article 1 of Chapter 18 of Title 45, by a health care corporation, health maintenance organization, preferred provider organization, accident and sickness insurer, fraternal benefit society, hospital service corporation, medical service corporation, provider sponsored health care corporation, or other insurer or similar entity.

(2) "Insurer" means an accident and sickness insurer, fraternal benefit society, hospital service corporation, medical service corporation, health care corporation, health maintenance organization, or any similar entity authorized to issue contracts under this title.

(c) EVERY HEALTH BENEFIT POLICY THAT IS DELIVERED, ISSUED, EXECUTED, OR RENEWED IN THIS STATE or approved for issuance or renewal in this state by the Commissioner on or after July 1, 1999, WHICH PROVIDES COVERAGE FOR PRESCRIPTION DRUGS ON AN OUTPATIENT BASIS SHALL PROVIDE COVERAGE FOR ANY PRESCRIBED DRUG OR DEVICE APPROVED BY THE UNITED STATES FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION FOR USE AS A CONTRACEPTIVE. This Code section shall not apply to limited benefit policies described in paragraph (4) of subsection (e) of Code Section 33-30-12. Likewise, nothing contained in this Code section shall be construed to require any insurance company to provide coverage for abortion.

(d) No insurer shall impose upon any person receiving prescription contraceptive benefits pursuant to this Code section any:

(1) Copayment, coinsurance payment, or fee that is not equally imposed upon all individuals in the same benefit category, class, coinsurance level or copayment level, receiving benefits for prescription drugs; or

(2) Reduction in allowable reimbursement for prescription drug benefits.

(e) This Code section shall not be construed to:

(1) Require coverage for prescription coverage benefits in any contract, policy, or plan that does not otherwise provide coverage for prescription drugs; or

(2) Preclude the use of closed formularies; provided, however, that such formularies shall include oral, implant, and injectable contraceptive drugs, intrauterine devices, and prescription barrier methods.

Well now, isn’t that just so very special?  

Continue reading below the fold.

Yes, the law was originally passed back in 1999, four years before Republicans gained control of Georgia’s government. But Republicans have had ten years in which to change the law if they thought there was a problem with it; yet, it has remained intact through ten Republican-controlled legislative sessions.

And with no stated exceptions, this law applies to mega-employer Saint Joseph’s Hospital, a 410-bed acute care facility in Atlanta with several subsidiaries including an employed physician’s group and research facilities, with a total of 3,000 employees.  And the law also applies to Saint Mary’s Hospital, a 196-bed acute care hospital in Athens, GA.  

Both hospitals are members of the Catholic Health East system.  

Yet not once have we heard a pastor, preacher, priest or politician utter one peep of an objection to the law.

No pronouncement from Newt Gingrich that Governor Nathan Deal or the Georgia legislature has “declared war on religion.”

No one-woman crusade by Georgia Diva Karen Handel to reverse this law during the three years from 2007 to 2010 that she served as Secretary of State under the gold dome with the Republican-controlled legislature.

No fit-pitching about “attacks on our religious freedoms” by Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory.  

Nothing. Nada.

Quite as a church mouse.

Until President Obama does the same thing.        

**

And quite frankly, I would be much more impressed with the Catholic Church’s conscientious objection to Catholic employers having to provide an insurance policy which covers contraception, if the Catholic Church had collectively been this upset; expended this much energy; expended these many resources; and focused this much attention on rooting out and ending pedophilia among the priesthood. There are countless thousands of lives which have been irreparably destroyed because the Vatican and church leadership in America chose to protect, hide and cover-up instead of immediately rooting out this evil from the Church. They were more concerned with the Church’s image and trying to do damage control than they were with the many thousands of lives which have been destroyed. So when they let evil like that fester in the Church and then go all out on a massive campaign to castigate President Obama based on a gnat-straining notion that regulating a woman’s ovulation cycle is murder while raising no objection to policies paying for erection-giving man drugs, I have no sympathy whatsoever for their argument.

1:49 PM PT: Thanks to commenter bernardpliers for linking to the Hullabaloo blog about the 2007 denial from the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case of Catholic Charities v. Dinallo, Case No. 06-1550. The case involved a 2002 New York statute entitled Women’s Health and Wellness Act which mandated that prescription drug coverage plans in health insurance policies must include coverage for contraceptives. A consortium of Catholic and Baptist charities sued claiming that the law violated their First Amendment religious freedoms. After New York’s highest state court ruled against the charities, they filed a petition for review with the U.S. Supreme Court. This was in 2007, after Roberts had become Chief Justice in 2005 and after Alito had arrived on the bench in 2006. A denial to review by the U.S. Supreme Court effectually means that the court agrees with the lower court. (2007 ACLU Press Release)

Originally posted to Craig Hardegree on Wed Feb 08, 2012 at 01:03 AM PST.

Also republished by Kos Georgia, Daily Kos, and Street Prophets .

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