By Eva Holtkamp
In a brazen decision last month, the Trump Administration rolled back an Obama-era policy that required employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans.
This provision of the Affordable Care Act vastly expanded access of free birth control to more than 55 million women according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services in 2015.
The new rule, however, offers an exemption to any employer on the basis of moral or religious objections. The administration also lists other concerns supporting their decision such as health risks that may be associated with certain forms of contraception, and explicitly stating that the mandate promotes “risky sexual behavior” among young people.
Ultimately, hundreds of thousands of women could now suddenly lose contraceptive coverage if their employers choose to opt out of the policy.
This decision by the Trump administration is a direct play to the religious right. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that majority of the public, 68 percent, supported the requirement for private health insurance plans to cover the cost of birth control.
But despite this, there have been prolonged efforts from those opposed to the 2012 mandate, including a 2014 Supreme Court ruling that allowed for-profit companies to shift birth control coverage costs to insurance companies, but still prevented any out of pocket costs.
President Trump’s decision follows his party’s continuous failed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It is now clear that this administration is going to tear apart this landmark piece of legislation slowly rather than addressing its issues head-on.
Not only that, but this decision plainly puts the religious convictions of an employer above a woman’s right to affordable contraception. Birth control is an essential part of health care for any woman.
The fact that the Trump administration would enact such an unpopular policy that negatively effects so many Americans speaks to their unabashed disregard for the rights and health of all women.