Editorial Excerpts
December 2017


Under the new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rule, any employer with a “sincerely held” religious or moral objection to contraception can stop covering the cost of birth control. The federal government doesn’t have to vet those objections for sincerity; companies can halt coverage just because they don’t feel like paying for it.

What’s more, companies that have opted out are no longer required to allow workers to access copay-free birth control coverage directly from insurance companies. So millions of American women who get employer-sponsored insurance may lose all coverage of contraception — forcing them to either pay out of pocket or forgo the well-known benefits to their health and financial stability they get from being able to plan their pregnancies.

Aside from the religious objections, the Trump DHHS — which is packed full of believers in misinformation about birth control — also presents a weak health-based case, saying that the rollback will help keep access to contraception from encouraging “risky sexual activity” among teens and young adults. (The fact that far fewer teens are having sex or giving birth today than in the 1980s would seem to lead to the opposite conclusion.)

But it’s obvious that this isn’t about the facts. It’s about (again) catering to the president’s base. And it would be almost laughable if the implications for women’s lives and health weren’t so serious.

– October 11, 2017

For more than a century, some conservatives have tried to prevent American couples from using birth control. Planned Parenthood pioneer Margaret Sanger was jailed eight times under puritanical Comstock Laws for teaching contraception.

Several hidebound states banned birth control until 1965, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that married couples have a right to use contraception in the privacy of their bedrooms — and 1972, when a follow-up ruling extended the right to unwed couples.

Now President Donald Trump has signed a directive saying all employers with strong religious beliefs may block their company health plans from covering birth control.

Why is it “religious freedom” to try to block contraception and cause some women to have babies they don’t want? Why is religious freedom only for bosses? Why don’t female employees have religious freedom to choose birth control if they want it?

We think birth control should be a human right for every couple and every female in the world. With the population explosion still soaring out of control, all people everywhere should have a right to choose whether they want more children. No outsider, such as a boss, should have “religious freedom” to interfere with that choice.

Birth control is a secure part of the modern safety net. Politicians shouldn’t try to gain votes by damaging it.

– October 19, 2017

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