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Members of U.S. House and Senate Move to Strike Trump Birth Control Rule

Legislation Would Reinstate Protection for 62 Million Women’s Access to Birth Control

Follows Outcry from Women, Health Care Experts, and Business Leaders

WASHINGTON D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Bob Casey and Representatives Diana DeGette, Louise Slaughter, Judy Chu, and Lois Frankel introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to protect coverage of birth control with no copay. The legislation would strike the two interim final rules (IFRs) introduced by the Trump administration that roll back the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) birth control benefit and eliminate the guarantee that women had for coverage of birth control, regardless of who they work for. More than 62 million women have access to birth control coverage thanks to the ACA.

The Trump administration's action was widely condemned by women and medical experts. In addition, over 150 members of Congress have signed a letter to HHS opposing the Trump administration’s action. Business leaders, including Kodak, have spoken out against the Trump administration’s rule and have pledged to protect their employees’ coverage of birth control with no copay.  

Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

It is unbelievable that in 2017, some DC politicians see access to birth control as being up for debate. Planned Parenthood applauds the members of the U.S. Senate and House who are doing what this administration will not: standing up for women, and fighting for basic health care.  Today, more women graduate, lead, and innovate than at any other point in our history, and one very important reason for that is access to birth control. Birth control is not controversial — it’s basic health care that the vast majority of women will use over the course of their lifetime. Senators Murray and Casey and Representatives DeGette, Slaughter, Chu, and Frankel understand that what’s at stake is a fundamental right — to be able to decide whether and when you have children. We cannot move this country forward by leaving half the population behind. It’s time for leaders across the country to stand with these champions in Congress and make it clear that we will not let this administration take us backward.

The Trump administration’s birth control rule were released on October 6 and immediately went into effect, allowing virtually any employer (nonprofit, small business, large corporation, private, or publicly held), school, or other entity to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage for religious or moral reasons — a standard unprecedented in its vagueness. It also eliminates the workaround that guaranteed women would continue to receive coverage for birth control even if their employers opted out of providing coverage.

The rule sparked outrage across the country. On the day the rule was put into place, #HandsOffMyBC was trending nationally on Twitter and generated over 190 million impressions.

Access to birth control has been heralded by experts as essential health care and credited with enhancing women’s economic freedom. Bloomberg Businessweek named contraception as one of the most transformational developments in the business sector in the last 85 years. Fully, one-third of the wage gains women have made since the 1960s are the result of access to oral contraceptives. Birth control has been estimated to account for more than 30 percent of the increase in the proportion of women in skilled careers from 1970 to 1990. The ACA's birth control benefit has also improved women's economic security and saved women an estimated $1.4 billion on birth control pills in its first year alone.

The majority of Americans support access to birth control with no copay. The majority of Americans support requiring health insurers to cover contraceptive care, such as birth control pills, and that support holds when questions about any moral or religious objection are taken into account, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll introduced Wednesday. Under the Affordable Care Act, religious houses of worship already had an accommodation that still ensured their employees could get coverage through other means.   

BACKGROUND ON BIRTH CONTROL:

FACT: Nearly nine in 10 women of reproductive age will use contraception at some point in their lives, whether for family planning or other medical reasons like treating endometriosis.

FACT:  We are at the lowest rate of unintended pregnancy in 30 years, and a historic low of  pregnancy among teens because of expanded access to birth control and sex education.

FACT: The Affordable Care Act’s birth control provision saved women an estimated $1.4 billion on birth control pills in its first year alone. Thanks to this benefit, more than 62 million women now have access to birth control without copayments.

FACT: According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, after the Affordable Care Act’s birth control provision took effect, fewer than 4 percent of American women had to pay out of pocket for oral birth control. That number was more than 20 percent before the law’s passage.

FACT: A 2010 Hart Research poll, conducted before the Affordable Care Act’s birth control provision went into effect, found that one in three women voters had struggled to afford prescription birth controls, including 57 percent of young women aged 18 to 34.

FACT: The rule comes just weeks after the Senate rejected deeply unpopular attempts to pass Graham-Cassidy, the latest version of Trumpcare, which would have eliminated the requirement that health insurance cover birth control.

FACT: According to recent FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, most companies already getting Obamacare birth control waivers aren't even religious groups. Vox reports that in fact, over half of the groups who applied for and received exemptions were for-profit companies and corporations.

FACT86 percent of Americans (including 91 percent of Democrats and 83 percent of Republicans) support policies that make it easier to get the full range of birth control methods.

FACT: Access to birth control can help reduce maternal and event infant mortality. In 1965, at the time of the Griswold v. Connecticut decision, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that provided the first constitutional protection for birth control, 32 women were dying for every 100,000 live births in America. Today, the rate is less than half that. Infant mortality has fallen even faster – from 25 deaths to six deaths per 1,000 live births.

FACT: Women use birth control for a variety of reasons — in fact, 58 percent of all women who use the pill rely on it, at least in part, for something other than pregnancy prevention, including endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome — which is prevalent among women of color — fibroids, and menstrual regulation.

FACT: In 2014, Bloomberg Businessweek also ranked the invention of the pill as one of the top 10 most transformative moments in the business sector over the last 85 years. Access to birth control has not just opened up educational and career opportunities for women, but it has catapulted women into more management roles. In fact, a study showed that the pill is responsible for one-third of women’s wage gains relative to men since the 1960s.

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.