The Trump administration recently repealed an Obama-era requirement for employers to provide birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. Now, employers with “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions” may refuse to include birth control in their offered health insurance.
Put simply, this is an unacceptable affront to women’s health.
“More than 55 million women have access to birth control without co-payments because of the contraceptive coverage mandate,” the New York Times reported. Under the new Trump guidance, hundreds of thousands of women could lose that integral part of their healthcare.
Giving employers control over a woman’s access to birth control prevents her ability to take ownership of her own healthcare. Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse condemned the decision in a statement: “President Trump’s new rule is a step backwards, particularly for women struggling to make ends meet who can’t afford to pay for birth control out of pocket. It seems the Trump administration is working on all fronts to tear up decades of hard-fought progress.” Trump treats birth control as a political game rather than a fundamental health right.
The decision also fails to consider the other health benefits of birth control. Beyond contraception, birth control can be used to help prevent anemia, endometrial and ovarian cancers, and even acne. For a couple political points, Trump has restricted treatment for these health concerns.
Yet, there is one point of hope after the decision: Women are not letting the administration take their birth control without a fight. Immediately after the order was issued, the Attorneys General of Massachusetts and California filed lawsuits to block the new rule, the Times also reported. And last week, nineteen Democratic Senators introduced legislation to overturn the directive, The Hill reported. But as Republicans control the floor in both the Senate and the House, these bills are unlikely to reach a full vote.
In the midst of these political conditions, women must stand up to the politicians who take away access to basic healthcare.
Contents of this blog constitute the opinion of the author, and the author alone; they do not represent the views and opinions of Women's Fund of Rhode Island.