On October 6, 2017 the Trump administration created an exemption that allows employers who have moral and religious opposition to contraception to deny women health insurance coverage. This policy will eliminate the guarantee that health insurance will continue to cover not just contraception, but basic women’s health needs such as breast exams, cervical cancer screenings, infertility and much more. Millions of women will lose their access to healthcare if it is revoked and this will lead to bigger issues in society.
According to Kaiser Family Foundation, about 59% of women in America use their health insurance coverage that is sponsored by their employers. Health care is not cheap (estimated $2,159 before insurance a day/visit) and is vital in a woman’s life . Of those that are receiving insurance, 43% of those women are dissatisfied with the plan that they have. Those who cannot gain access to health insurance coverage through employment look to use free health care services like Planned Parenthood (a nonprofit organization that provides affordable or free healthcare services for women).
The vendetta we are facing here is undoubtedly Women’s Health vs. Religious Freedom; whether health coverage, like contraceptive coverage, should continue to be paid for or if employers can deny that coverage on religious or moral grounds. Religious freedom is important in the sense that every citizen has the fundamental right to it and no citizen should be denied their right to exercise freely. But in the same sense, access to healthcare is an essential need for everyone and results in a better society overall. Eliminating the birth control mandate coincides with other attacks on women’s health the GOP have employed in recent years, including their efforts to effectively shut down Planned Parenthood.
2 million–As of right now, that is how many women alone rely on health care services like Planned Parenthood to meet their basic healthcare needs.
Planned Parenthood provides but is not limited to:
- Being the leading and largest provider of sex education.
- Abortion services and referral
- General healthcare including being able to see a regular doctor/physician and nurse
- Emergency contraception
- HIV services
- Men’s health services (cancer, STD, routine check-up services)
- Pregnancy tests
- STD testing, treatments, and vaccines
Nine out of ten women use birth control once they have reached the reproductive age . In total, there are 55 million women who have access to birth control ! If Planned Parenthood clinics are eliminated completely, women will lose an essential provider of healthcare. The Affordable Care Act has helped and improved many lives—without it, millions of people (not just women) will find themselves without coverage once again. If the Trump administration repeals the ACA, it would lead to more unwanted childbirths, and eliminate the ability for women to get pap smear tests, blood pressure checks, and access to a regular physician .
The Trump Administration argues an employer’s religious beliefs can overrule offering women’s health especially when dealing with contraception. The birth control mandate applies to all employers, not just religious institutions or those that receive federal funding. If Trump eliminates the mandate, women will be left with higher co-payments, deductibles, and other expenses for the same care . Recently, Judge Haywood Gilliam, Jr., of the U.S. District court for the Northern District of California issued a suspension to the President’s authoritative instruction that allows employers to stop contraceptive coverage. One of Pennsylvania’s federal court judges also halted this rule because it would cause “serious and irreplaceable harm.”  This sets up a future legal battle between the administration and women’s health advocates over the legality of the mandate. However, Congress may be able to act in the meantime to provide an alternative solution.
What are our options?
- Overturn the mandate as the administration wants to do
- Keep the mandate in place
- Overturn the mandate, but provide women’s health services through other means, such as Medicaid or Medicare
- Lastly, Planned Parenthood can be privately funded through investors, sponsors, and women’s health organizations as a safety net for women
If the Trump administration feels strongly about preserving employer’s rights, then the administration needs to establish an alternative plan that does not put a burden on women. Supplying contraception inexpensively to help stop unwanted pregnancies is a public service and overall is for the common good. The common benefit should outweigh the cost of those who are funding the free healthcare. The continuation of Planned Parenthood centers and health insurance coverage would proceed to help prevent many unwanted births. The damage does not stem from the employers (with religious objections) losing money; the real damage done is with the millions of women who will lose access to their affordable healthcare.
Cutting off a woman’s access to healthcare is unethical regardless of what a person’s religious beliefs. Employers should not have the power to dictate what their employees choose to do with their health benefits. If employers can deny health insurance to women based on their religious beliefs, what can’t they do? Should they be able to fire divorcees, or unwed pregnant women? Additionally, the freedom of religious practice is limited in other ways concerning the federal government; someone cannot refuse to pay their taxes because the government spends money on things they don’t approve of.
What is the Resolution?
The best result for our society as a whole would be to keep the birth control mandate in place. Access to affordable contraception has had tremendous benefits for our society, and the administration has not suggested any alternate method of providing it outside the ACA. Employers and businesses have to separate their religious stances from the workplace and continue to provide coverage.
The best option would be to petition the White House’s administration by signing this petition below:
- Stop the reversal of Obamacare by signing this act: https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/stop-trump-from-repealing
By supporting Planned Parenthood, you can take a stand with them by signing the petition to fight the policy.
- https://www.istandwithpp.org — send message
- Join their team: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/get-involved/jobs-and-volunteering
There is also room to physically protest the issue peacefully, but removal may take place.
- The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. (2017, October 31). Retrieved December 15, 2017 from, https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/fact-sheet/womens-health-insurance-coverage-fact-sheet/
- Goodstein, L., & Pear, R., & Ruiz, R. (2017, October 6). Trump Administration Rolls Back Birth Control Mandate. Retrieved December 15, 2017 from, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/06/us/politics/trump-contraception-birth-control.html
- Pear, R. ( 2017, December 15). Court Temporarily Blocks Trump Order Against Contraceptive Coverage. Retrieved December 15, 2017 from, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/15/us/politics/obamacare-birth-control-trump.html
- Goldstein, A., & Eilperin, J., & Wan, W. (2017, October 6). Trump Administration Narrows Affordable Care Act’s Contraception Mandate. Retrieved on December 15, 2017 from, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/trump-administration-could-narrow-affordable-care-acts-contraception-mandate/2017/10/05/16139400-a9f0-11e7-92d1-58c702d2d975_story.html?utm_term=.70fa171a8a73
- Fabian, J. (2017, October 18). Trump Reverses Course, Indicates Opposition to ObamaCare Deal. Retrieved on December 15, 2017 from, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/355985-trump-reverses-course-indicates-opposition-to-obamacare-deal
- Planned Parenthood. (2017, October 6). Trump Administration Takes Direct Aim at Birth Control Coverage for 62 Million Women. Retrieved December 15, 2017 from, https://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/trump-administration-takes-direct-aim-at-birth-control-coverage-for-62-million-women-2
- Colliver,V.(2017, December 17). Second Federal Judge Halts Trump’s Birth Control Rule. Retrieved on December 26, 2017 from, https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/21/second-federal-judge-halts-trumps-birth-control-rule-312405