The Trump administration just announced its intention to rollback portions of the Obamacare mandate that requires most employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. It’s a mandate that has guaranteed 55 million women free birth control since 2010, and saved women billions of dollars on birth control pills alone.
The new interim final rules released on Friday are steeped in hypocrisy. In the same week that team Trump said it would support a 20-week abortion ban that passed the House and is now headed to the Senate, it announced a change that will only make it harder for women to determine if and when they want to become pregnant.
Which is what birth control does.
The abortion rate in the United States is the lowest it has been since Roe v. Wade passed in the 1970s, thanks in part to greater access to birth control. If the question is how to prevent abortions, contraceptive access is a major part of the answer.
But preventing pregnancy is not the only thing birth control does. Birth control, in its many forms, is health care. It’s medication that 14 percent of women turn to for strictly non-contraceptive reasons. Like...
Reducing premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
Regulating irregular cycles...
...And treating heavy periods.
Reducing menstrual migraines.
Managing the pain of endometriosis.
Managing the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Lowering the risk of anaemia.
Controlling the symptoms of uterine fibroids.
Helping to prevent certain cancers.
Yet despite the many benefits of birth control, some employers seem ready to pounce on the change.
According to data released by the Center for American Progress in August, 45 entities requested exemptions to the birth control mandate between 2014 and 2016, following the Supreme Court decision that for-profit companies with certain religious and moral beliefs do not have to offer employees birth control. More than half of the companies seeking an exemption were for-profit corporations, while far fewer were non-profits or educational institutions with religious affiliations. Many indicated they were specifically seeking an exemption from providing the most expensive (and also the most effective) forms of birth control, like IUDs.
As Dr. Anne Davis, consulting medical director for Physicians for Reproductive Health, said in a statement on Friday—joining a chorus of reproductive rights advocates who are outraged by the rule: “An employer’s beliefs have no place in these private decisions, just as they would not in any other conversation about a patient’s health care.”