Late Thursday, President Trump’s administration announced it would be rolling back a 2012 health care protection enacted by President Obama, potentially affecting 55 million women’s health care and reproductive rights. The change, which is effective immediately, removes the requirement that employers must provide the option to provide FDA-approved contraception at no cost to employees through company-provided medical insurance. In other words, you could lose your coverage as soon as now.
The new regulation includes ways for employers (even private sector companies) to apply for an exemption from having to provide birth control options either based on moral or religious grounds. The previous rule stated no such exemptions could be made, essentially making a woman’s health paramount over religious wishes.
Some are applauding the change. Lori Windham, a spokesperson for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, tells The Huffington Post, “We believe that people with sincere religious beliefs should be able to use an exemption. It’s a good way to protect those Americans who want to be able to provide quality health insurance, but can’t in good conscience provide contraceptives.”
While it is the stance of the administration that the previous rule was discriminatory against those who held religious beliefs against contraception, as well as their desire to, “bring to a close more than five years of litigation” (against the previous rule), women’s rights activists believe the move is another in restricting women’s right to receiving what could be, at times, lifesaving medical care.
According to The Guardian, the year that Obama first set this contraception law into place was the same year that the country had the fewest abortions ever. Before the mandate was set into place, three in every four women in the US (that’s 75 percent) had a hard time accessing safe contraceptive methods, with cost cited as a major factor. Obama’s mandate effectively saved women $1.4 billion dollars in health care costs, drove down the abortion rate, and allowed women better access to overall health and wellness care.
In a statement Thursday, Planned Parenthood’s Dana Singiser, Vice President for Public Policy and Government Relations said, “This is the latest in a long line of attacks on women’s health we’ve seen from this administration. Birth control is essential for women’s health and lives, and should never be a decision made by a woman’s employer.”
“In the last decade, we’ve made important progress advancing the cause of women’s health: Unintended pregnancy is at an all-time low today thanks in part to expanded access to birth control,” Singiser said, imploring the administration not to release their policy update.
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