President Trump just made it easier for insurers to deny women access to contraceptives.
Under Trump’s direction, Health and Human Services announced last week they are rescinding an Obama-era rule that requires employers to provide free birth control to employees, citing religious liberty as a motivation. The rule was established under the Affordable Health Care Act.
The Affordable Care Act required employers to provide birth control to its employees at no cost since 2010. But insurance companies skirted around this mandate by charging for non-generic birth control.
A 2014 Supreme Court case held that religious entities like churches and nonprofits can be exempt from the 2010 mandate. But only a small percentage of institutions could be exempt from this rule. The recension of the Obama-era rule makes it so more organizations can deny contraceptive coverage.
Natalie Kathok, 23, is among this small percentage of women who still pay for birth control. This number is about to increase.
Trump is making it so difficult. He’s removing coverage from just about every area Obama put it in.
Kathok, a junior at American University, pays $60 per month for the pill. She hopes to transition to an inserted contraceptive device because she doesn’t take the pill at the same time every day. But she worries the cost will be too high.
“I don’t feel like I can be trusted to do something that regularly [the pill]. Trump is making it so difficult. He’s removing coverage from just about every area Obama put it in.”
Conservative groups and politicians including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, praised the new rule.
“This is a landmark day for religious liberty. Under the Obama administration, this constitutional right was seriously eroded.”
The Obama-era mandate made it easier for women to get coverage. More than two-thirds of women have access to free birth control, according to data published by the Guttmacher Institute.
The increasingly widespread availability of contraceptives caused teen pregnancy rates to significantly decline, according to the CDC.
Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC expressed concern in a press release over the new mandate saying that it is “taking direct aim at birth control coverage” because he is taking away the right “to be able to decide whether and when you want to have children.”
Kathok is not only worried about the new mandate, but also a new bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks. The U.S. House of Representatives last week passed the bill.
The “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” exempts mothers whose health is endangered and victims of rape. Rape victims would have to report the crime to the police, seek counseling 48 hours prior or seek medical attention for injuries related to the rape.
The White House praised the bill and the House of Representatives “for continuing its efforts to secure critical pro-life protections.”
Republicans promoted the bill as a way of protecting fetuses from feeling pain. But science does not support their claim.
Kathok says she opposes this bill because it is not based in fact. She says Republican policies are not helpful to women and their social policies don’t help the most vulnerable children “when its born it is just as bad of a crime.”
Sen. Lindsay Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, introduced the bill to the Senate earlier this month.