On Friday, Trump took another huge swipe at women— this time at their access to birth control. The administration announced that it would be rolling back Obama-era mandates that require most employers to provide insurance that covers birth control. Instead, Trump has made it much easier to refuse to provide coverage if an employer believes they have a “religious or moral objection” to doing so. But this isn’t about religion and it’s not about morals. This is about denying women access to a basic health care necessity.
“The Trump administration says, with no evidence whatsoever, that its new rules will have no effect on ‘over 99.9 percent of the 165 million women in the United States,'” the New York Times reports. “It further argues that low-income women will still be able to get subsidized or free contraception through community health programs and government health programs. Left unsaid is that the administration has made no secret of its desire to substantially cut government spending on programs like these. Several public interest groups, like the Center for Reproductive Rights, the National Women’s Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union, say they plan to challenge the Trump rules in court.” And the challenges can’t come quickly enough. The changes are meant to take place immediately, leaving many women wondering what action they need to take to secure access to birth control.
BREAKING: New rule from Trump admin puts our birth control coverage at risk.
— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) October 6, 2017
The vast majority of women in the US will use birth control at some point in their lives. They may use it to treat endometriosis or PCOS, they may use it to deal with cystic acne, and they may just use it because they don’t want to get pregnant. That is their right. But a third of women have trouble paying for birth control— and over half of African American women have struggled to cover it. This means using birth control irregularly and, therefore, less effectively— or not using it all. This will only get worse is employers can opt out of providing it through insurance. And the results could be devastating.
You can’t underestimate the impact that birth control has on women’s lives. As Planned Parenthood Explains:
“According to a Guttmacher study, a majority of women said that birth control use had allowed them to take better care of themselves or their families (63 percent), support themselves financially (56 percent), complete their education (51 percent), or keep or get a job (50 percent).”
It’s not just about getting pregnant— it can affect every area of their lives. And the bottom line is: Denying women access to birth control tells them that they are not in control of their bodies. That their autonomy, agency, and independence don’t matter. That someone else’s beliefs mean more than their basic needs. It’s hateful, it’s misogynistic, but it’s no surprise from this administation. This is one in a long line of ways that have attacked women. 62.4 million women benefited from the Obama-era mandates, but Trump has no problem telling those women that they don’t matter. We can only hope that the legal challenges come thick and fast.