In recent years, more women and couples have come to depend on Fertility Awareness Based Methods (FABM) for family planning—and for good reason. As more becomes known about the dangers of pharmaceutical contraceptive drugs and devices, FABMs provide the effective, empowering, side-effect-free alternative that couples have been searching for.
Unfortunately, the Biden administration is attempting to illegally rescind the Affordable Care Act’s mandated coverage for FABM instruction—so much for “choice,” right?
The Cost of Learning a FABM
You’ve heard the phrase “give a man a fish, feed him for a day / teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” Well, birth control pills and devices are easily the former, while instruction in a FABM is the latter.
FABM teaches women and couples to read the signs of their fertility so they can know when they are most likely to get pregnant over the course of the menstrual cycle, and plan intercourse according to their desire to avoid or achieve pregnancy. FABMs are not only more empowering than popping a pill or implanting an IUD (both of which suppress a woman’s natural fertility and come with a host of risks and side effects), but they are far more cost-effective in the long run, too.
However, while FABMs are more cost-effective than pharmaceutical birth control in the long run, learning a FABM can cost between $100 and $500 depending on the method and on how much personal support a woman or couple needs. As my organization Natural Womanhood learned when we launched our scholarship fund for fertility awareness instruction, quite a few women and couples may be challenged to fund this training when they most need it.
Biden Admin Yanks Funding for FABM Instruction
Fortunately, in recent years, some women and couples have been able to find coverage for FABM instruction. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2016 included “instruction in fertility awareness-based methods” as part of the ACA’s demand that insurance plans refrain from placing cost-sharing requirements on women seeking “preventative care and screenings.” Therefore, since 2016, FABM instructors have been able to seek reimbursement for providing their services, as long as they were licensed (or covered under the license) of a medical professional.
Unfortunately, for reasons unbeknownst to anyone but themselves, the Biden administration’s HHS suddenly decided to rescind this coverage in December 2021. If left unchallenged, the new rule will go into effect in December 2022, and thousands of women and couples seeking FABM instruction will be forced to pay out of pocket or forego it altogether for lack of funds to pay for it.
This Doctor Is Suing Biden’s HHS for It
Fortunately, Alliance Defending Freedom has taken up the call to defend real choice in family planning for women and couples. In doing so, they are highlighting the utter hypocrisy of an administration that prides itself on “choice,” literally taking away choices of family planning for thousands of women and couples in the United States. The administration’s decision is especially ironic, given that the left is currently accusing the right of “coming for your birth control next,” to drum up even more hysteria surrounding the upcoming Supreme Court decision on Dobbs.
ADF’s client (and the plaintiff in the case) is Dr. Cami Jo Tice-Harouff, a Texas nurse practitioner who uses FABMs to not only teach couples how to effectively plan their families, but also as a health tool that can help her diagnose and treat the underlying sources of health issues in women of all ages, such as irregular, painful, and heavy periods, PMS/PMDD, infertility, and more.
Rather than placing a woman on the Band-Aid solution of birth control, which merely overrides her natural cycles and treats nothing, Tice-Harouff uses the information from a woman’s cycle charts (along with other diagnostic tests and procedures) to address the root cause of whatever cycle-related issue the woman is facing, restoring her cycle, her fertility, and her health in the process. This is authentic women’s health, and the Biden administration is trying to take it away.
After decades of misinformation from public health authorities like the CDC and HHS, falsely equating modern, biomarker-based methods of fertility awareness with “the rhythm method,” it was an exciting day for many in 2016 when HHS recognized FABMs for the valid, effective methods of family planning they truly are. Likewise, there was progress to be celebrated when HHS required FABM instruction to be covered by insurance in the same way other family planning methods are.
The Biden administration’s ongoing attempt to take FABMs away from ACA insurance coverage is a huge step backward, and a massive slight to the women and couples seeking effective, risk- and side-effect-free forms of family planning.
Grace Emily Stark is a freelance writer with published work in multiple outlets, and she is the Editor of Natural Womanhood. Grace is also a current Ramsey Institute Fellow at the Center for Bioethics & Culture, and a former Novak Alumni Fund Journalism fellowship recipient. Follow her writing at GraceEmilyStark.com.