Dangerous new rules would allow any employer to drop contraceptives from their health plan.
Last week, the Trump administration took direct aim at birth control coverage for 62 million American women.
Extremists inside the federal government moved to roll back the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit — which requires insurance plans to cover birth control without a copay, or accommodate women whose employers or schools legally opt out of providing direct coverage.
The mandate to cover birth control has had a huge, positive impact on women:
Thanks to this benefit, over 62 million women can access birth control without copayments. That saved women an estimated $1.4 billion in payments for contraceptives in 2013 alone —the benefit’s first year in place.
Providing birth-control coverage with no copayments has helped more women gain reliable, affordable access to contraception. The significance of that can’t be dismissed; a third of women voters in a 2017 survey said they couldn’t afford prescription birth control costing more than $10.
That increased access has coincided with huge, beneficial social trends. In recent years the rate of unintended pregnancy has reached 30-year lows — and America’s birth rate among teens has reached a record low. Researchers have partially attributed both trends to more consistent use of birth control.
Most crucially, access to birth control helps women be equal participants in America’s economy and society.
But the sweeping rules proposed by the Trump administration would change all that.
Trump’s announced policies would:
allow any employer (nonprofit, small business, or large corporation), school, or other entity to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage for “religious or moral reasons”
eliminate the guarantee that women could maintain access to birth control coverage even if their employer chose to opt out of providing it
specifically encourages withholding from women, on religious or moral grounds, health coverage mandated by law
Let’s be clear, this has nothing to do with religion.
Under the Affordable Care Act, religious organizations already had an accommodation that still let their employees access coverage through other means. This rule is about taking away women’s fundamental health care, plain and simple.
Why is birth control so important?
It’s hard to imagine that just over 50 years ago, birth control was not just inaccessible, but in many states even illegal. Since Griswold v. Connecticut was decided in 1965, birth control has had a dramatic impact on women and families in this country.
At the time of the Griswold decision, about 32 women in America died per every 100,000 live births. Today, the rate is much less than that. The gains reach across our society — a study shows that the pill is responsible for one-third of women’s wage gains since the 1960s.
Birth control is also basic health care. Nearly nine out of 10 women of reproductive age have used birth control at some point in their lives — and while women use birth control for the precise purpose that name suggests, they use it for other reasons as well. In fact, 58 percent of all women using the pill rely on it, at least in part, for a purpose other than pregnancy prevention. Among the conditions treated with contraception: polycystic ovarian syndrome and fibroids— both of which are prevalent among women of color — as well as endometriosis and menstrual regulation.
But Trump and other extremists want to block you from birth control coverage
It is unbelievable that, in 2017, there’s still a fight about whether women should have access to birth control or other preventive services. The rule goes so far as to even say that expanded birth control access may promote “risky sexual behavior” among some teenagers and young adults.
The Trump administration is anti-contraception.
Just look at how Trump has systematically filled key administration positions with anti-science, anti-women’s health extremists:
Teresa Manning manages the Title X program — the main federal funding commitment to family planning — but believes that contraceptives don’t work.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma administers the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — running two of the programs that provide the most health care to women of all ages. But she believes that maternity coverage should be optional.
FDA Chief Scott Gottlieb — the agency that works to ensure drug safety — speciously claimed that access to birth control under the Affordable Care Act could result in cuts to other forms of women’s health care.
HHS public affairs chief Charmaine Yoest — the person responsible for communicating for HHS — has touted phony claims that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer while citing junk science in support of her arguments.
- Katy Talento — an epidemiologist and Domestic Policy Council appointee who advises the president on health care — has claimed, against scientific consensus, that contraceptives could result in “breaking your uterus for good.”