Saturday, March 17, 2007

When is discrimination against women not considered discrimination?

When the Federal Appeals Court is involved. In a brilliantly circuitous line of reasoning, the majority Republican panel decided that the exclusion of contraceptives from Union Pacific’s insurance plans was not discriminatory, as it also excluded condoms and vasectomies.

However, the Democratic appointee, to the panel, Judge Bye, dissented, perceptively noting that there is an inequality in terms of the medical effect of the lack of coverage since “This failure only medically affects females, as they bear all of the health consequences of unplanned pregnancies.”

According to the NYTimes, “The appellate panel explicitly rejected a 2000 decision by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act required employers to cover prescription contraception for women if they covered prescription drugs and devices used to prevent other medical conditions.” and that “Union Pacific’s health plans did not violate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act because contraception is not related to pregnancy.”

They brilliantly concluded, “Contraception is a treatment that is only indicated prior to pregnancy …Contraception is not a medical treatment that occurs when or if a woman becomes pregnant; instead contraception prevents pregnancy from even occurring.”

It is reassuring to know that Rogaine, for men’s baldness, and Viagra will still be covered as medically necessary drugs.