Republican presidential candidates’ positions cost women a lot: Opposing equal pay ($500 billion in costs), no-copay birth control ($1.4 billion in costs), and gender discrimination protections in health care ($1 billion in costs) adds up to costing women $502.4 billion per year.
The field of GOP presidential candidates have made a name for themselves — by staking their campaigns on the idea that women should not have access to no-copay birth control, that poor women should not have access to basic reproductive health care, and that no woman should have access to safe and legal abortion, even if she’s been the victim of rape (or in some cases if her life is at stake).
Last night’s “Your Money, Your Vote” debate will focus on the economy. So let’s take a look at the economic consequences of the GOP candidates’ vision for American women. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t look good.
Repealing No-Copay Birth Control
Cost per year for women: $1.4 Billion
The Affordable Care Act has meant a lot of changes for women, but one of the most immediate was its birth control benefit --- thanks to which, more than 55 million women are now eligible for birth control without a copay.
A recent study published in Health Affairs found that the Affordable Care Act has saved women $1.4 billion a year on birth control pills alone — showing the clear economic impact that access to no co-pay birth control has had on women’s lives. The study found that the mean out-of pocket expense for the pill declined by 38% between June 2012 and June 2013 and declined 68%for IUDs in the same time period. The study also found that before the birth control benefit went into effect, contraceptive costs accounted for 30-44%of women’s total out-of-pocket health care costs.
Unfortunately, every single GOP candidate on the main stage last night has advocated for a repeal in the Affordable Care Act — many, such as Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio and John Kasich, targeting birth control specifically.
Lifting Provisions to Prevent Gender Discrimination in Health Care Costs
Cost Per Year for Women: $1 Billion
The Affordable Care Act also includes a provision that prevents insurance companies from using what’s called a “gender rating” to charge women higher premiums than men for the same benefits. Before this provision went into effect in 2014, women paid an estimated $1 billion more than men for the same health care plans.
All GOP candidates taking the stage tonight would repeal this provision, sending women back into an era where they paid more for health care, simply because of their gender.
Opposing Equal Pay for Equal Work Cost Per Year for Women: More Than $500 Billion
While it’s getting better for some, women still earn less than men every year — costing women an estimated $500 billion each year. Everyone agrees that women should get paid the same as men for the same work, right? Wrong. Inexplicably, the GOP field is opposed to that idea.
Look no further than Governor Kasich’s office, which had the highest wage gap among male and female employees according to an investigation on the issue. It found that women working in Republican Gov. John Kasich's office earn $9.81-an-hour less, on average, than men. The pay gap in governor Kasich’s was the highest gender pay gap among the all statewide officeholders that were investigated.
Marco Rubio voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act, and went as far to say that this bill was about scoring “political points.” There is nothing political about working to ensure that women are paid equally — it’s just the right thing to do.
Blocking Access to Birth Control
Access to birth control has meant more educational and economic options for women. Since the 1960s when oral contraceptives became available the number of women in the U.S. labor force has more than tripled, women’s income now constitute a growing proportion of family income, and the number of women who complete four or more years of college is six times what it was before birth control became legal.
How else has birth control helped women’s economic opportunity?
- Birth control has helped women move closer to economic equity. Research finds that availability of the pill is responsible for a third of women’s wage increases relative to men. By the 1980s and ’90s, the women who had early access to the pill were making 8%more each year than those who did not.
- Women who have access to the Pill at a younger age are 20% more likely to go to college and make more money later in life. According to a study on early access to oral contraceptives, younger teenagers are more likely to choose to attend college as well as earn higher wages over their extended lifetime if they incorporate the pill into their daily life.
- Voters recognize the inextricable links between reproductive health and economic stability. The PerryUndem Research/Communication group polled voters about women’s health, and the vast majority said that a woman’s ability to control whether or when she has children affects her basic measure of equality and economic opportunity. Over 80% of voters surveyed agree that a woman’s ability to control the timing of her job and family is a fundamental component of women’s equality. 72% believe that reproductive health access and planning is directly related to financial stability.
- Women who use birth control are more economically secure. A 2012 report from the Guttmacher Institute confirmed that women use contraception to better achieve their life goals, with the majority of participants reporting that contraception has had a significant impact on their lives:
- allowing them to take better care of themselves or their families (63 percent);
- support themselves financially (56 percent);
- complete their education (51 percent), or keep or get a job (50 percent).
- Other reasons for using contraception, reported by a majority of respondents, include not being ready to have children (63 percent), feeling that using birth control gives them better control over their lives (60 percent), and wanting to wait until their lives are more stable to have a baby (60 percent).
Yet despite this, every single GOP Presidential candidate has opposed making it easier for women to access birth control --- with some wanting to block women’s access to birth control all together.
It’s clear that, whether for their stance on access to birth control, opposition to equal pay, or simply because of how radically they’d roll back access to basic reproductive health care --- women just can’t afford to elect these GOP candidates.