The Con: HRSA guidelines and the Institute of Medicine
The HRSA guidelines came from the advice of an ideologically-driven Institute of Medicine panel.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM), tasked with advising HRSA on what should be included in the preventive services mandate, had an abortion-advocacy bias in its panel membership as well as its invited presenters.
Dissenting from the IOM recommendation, committee member Dr. Anthony Lo Sasso criticized the committee’s lack of transparency and creation of an advocacy-based recommendation,
The committee process for evaluation of the evidence lacked transparency and was largely subject to the preferences of the committee’s composition. Troublingly, the process tended to result in a mix of objective and subjective determinations filtered through a lens of advocacy.[i]
Several members of the IOM panel have direct ties to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider,[ii] which stands to gain financially from the IOM recommendation, as well as other openly pro-abortion organizations.[iii]
A look at the organizations invited to present at the IOM’s three public meetings on the preventive services mandate underscore its advocacy-based bias.[iv]
Notably, at the first meeting, groups invited to speak on “women’s issues” included the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood, as a distributor of “contraceptives,” stands to gain tremendously if insurance plans are required to cover contraceptives without co-pay, a financial stake which was never disclosed as a conflict of interest.
Other invited presenters included the National Women’s Law Center which states on its website, “We’re working to ensure that women have access to abortion care by protecting and advancing this fundamental right.”[v] The second meeting included a presentation by a former official affiliate of Planned Parenthood, the Guttmacher Institute, whose “Guiding Principles” include working to “protect, expand and equalize access to information, services and rights that will enable women and men to … exercise the right to choose abortion.”[vi]
Thus, it is unsurprising with an ideologically-stacked deck, that nearly every invited presenter urged the inclusion of all FDA-approved contraceptives in the mandate, without addressing any conscience concerns for Americans who oppose drugs and devices with life-ending mechanisms of action.
Further, the IOM’s own Report acknowledged that the panel would have considered abortion per se as a “preventive service” had it not been otherwise constrained by the Affordable Care Act, “Finally, despite the potential health and well-being benefits to some women, abortion services were considered to be outside of the project’s scope, given the restrictions contained in the ACA.”[vii]
[i] Committee on Preventive Services for Women; Institute of Medicine, Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gaps 207 (2011) available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13181 (last visited Aug. 1, 2011).
[ii] According to her biography, Dr. Paula Johnson “served for many years on the board of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts and chaired the board from 1997-1998.” See http://www.bphc.org/boardofhealth/boardmembers/Pages/Home.aspx (last visited Sept. 27, 2011); Dr. Magda Peck served as chair and vice-chair of the Board of Directors Planned Parenthood of Nebraska Council Bluffs (now Planned Parenthood of the Heartland) from 2006-2009. See http://www4.uwm.edu/secu/news_events/sph-dean/Peck-cv.pdf (last visited Sept. 27, 2011); Dr. Carol Weisman served as a member of the Affiliate Medical Committee of Planned Parenthood of Maryland from 1993-1997 and was a member of the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood of Maryland from 1978-1984. See http://www.pennstatehershey.org/c/document_library/get_file?folderId=229089&name=DLFE-25907.pdf (last visited Sept. 27, 2011).
[iii] Dr. Francisco Garcia has worked with the International Planned Parenthood Federation See http://orwh.od.nih.gov/about/Garcia%20(updated%202-18-10)–edited%20clean%20copy.pdf (last visited Sept. 27, 2011); Dr. Paula Johnson serves on the board of the Center for Reproductive Rights, an organization which seeks to expand abortion access. See http://www.bphc.org/boardofhealth/boardmembers/Pages/Home.aspx (last visited Sept. 27, 2011); Dr. Claire Brindis is a co-founder of the Bixby Center for Global and Reproductive Health. The Bixby Center provides abortion training and runs initiatives designed to increase and expand abortion services. See http://bixbycenter.ucsf.edu/research/abortion.html (last visited Sept. 27, 2011). Dr. Brindis also chaired the Population, Family Planning and Reproductive Health Section (PRSH) of the American Public Health Association. The PRSH has a “task force” dedicated to abortion. See http://www.apha.org/membergroups/sections/aphasections/population/benefits/taskforces.htm (last visited Sept. 27, 2011); Dr. Angela Diaz has served as a Board Member for the Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health. See http://www.prch.org/about-board-directors (last visited Sept. 27, 2011); and Dr. Alina Salganicoff has worked as a trainer and counselor for CHOICE, “a Philadelphia-based reproductive health care advocacy organization.” See http://www.kff.org/womenshealth/upload/Speaker-Biographies-Women-and-Health-Care-A-National-Profile.pdf (last visited Sept. 27, 2011).
[iv]The IOM meeting information and agendas are available at http://iom.edu/Activities/Women/PreventiveServicesWomen.aspx (last visited Sept. 27, 2011).
[v] National Women’s Law Center, Our Issues, Abortion, available at http://www.nwlc.org/our-issues/health-care-%2526-reproductive-rights/abortion (last visited Sept. 27, 2011).
[vii] Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gaps, Institute of Medicine (July 19, 2011) at 21.