Politics & policy

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After Viagra Fuss, Women's Groups Say 'Help Us, Too'

Women's groups are lobbying Congress to require coverage of female prescription contraceptives now that more and more insurance companies say they are willing to pay for at least a few doses per month of the male impotence pill Viagra.

According to one group, it's unfair for insurers to help men have more and better sex, while not helping women avoid unwanted pregnancies. "Viagra, in all seriousness, means more sex. And more sex means more need for effective contraception," says Gloria Feldt, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation.

Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine introduced a bill last year to require health insurers that pay for prescription drugs to cover contraceptive drugs, devices and services, but the bill went nowhere. And despite heavy pressure from women's groups, chances for passage of similar legislation this year are dicey at best. Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada, a Senate sponsor, says lack of interest in the issue "shows me what happens when you have a male-dominated legislature. If this were a problem that affected men, this thing would have passed decades ago."

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