Birth control will now be harder for some women to get, depending on who their employer is. The Trump administration decided Friday that, effective immediately, any employer can claim a religious or moral objection to providing birth control coverage under its insurance plan.
The Obamacare mandate that requires birth control to be provided at no cost has been opposed by religious groups and fought in court for more than five years, as Politico notes.
The administration has published a 100-page document (pdf) in which it writes:
The United States has a long history of providing conscience protections in the regulation of health care for entities and individuals with objections based on religious beliefs or moral convictions. These interim final rules expand exemptions to protect moral convictions for certain entities and individuals whose health plans are subject to a mandate of contraceptive coverage through guidance issued pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The document notes that the new Trump mandate will not affect other federal programs that “provide free or subsidized contraceptives for women at risk of unintended pregnancy.”
The administration claims to be protecting people from being forced to violate their religious beliefs, while simultaneously ignoring and downplaying the fact that this will now make it harder for many women to get access to birth control.
Politico reports that women’s groups are already moving to counter this change with lawsuits.
Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, told Politico:
Today’s outrageous rules by the Trump Administration show callous disregard for women’s rights, health, and autonomy. By taking away women’s access to no-cost birth control coverage, the rules give employers a license to discriminate against women. We will take immediate legal steps to block these unfair and discriminatory rules.
In 2014 the Supreme Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores that private companies could seek an exemption from providing birth control coverage on religious grounds. Politico found last year that in the time since that ruling, only 52 companies or nonprofits sought to opt out of the birth control requirement based on religion.
In addition, women saved $1.4 billion on birth control pills in 2013 because of the mandate, and about 55 million women have benefited directly from no-cost birth control.
This latest move by the Trump administration will undoubtedly have a ripple effect that affects not just women but America as a whole.
As the director of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Haywood Brown, told Politico, “Any move to decrease access to these vital services would have damaging effects on public health and women’s health.”
If you remove access to birth control while simultaneously making cuts to social welfare programs, how do all these children born unintentionally get taken care of?
What is the endgame here?