Editorial Excerpts
March 2018

Under Obamacare, employers had to provide contraception coverage to women with no out-of-pocket costs. The law carved out exemptions for churches and religious groups. And after the arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby took its case to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014, the exemptions were expanded to include small, family-owned companies that oppose the birth control mandate on religious or moral grounds.

Now, in the name of “religious liberty,” the Trump administration has issued regulations allowing companies to end birth control coverage without having to seek a government waiver. All they have to do is notify their employees that their benefits have changed.

Many practicing Catholics oppose the mandate on religious grounds, for church teachings say it’s a sin to use contraceptive pills and devices that interfere with the divine plan for new life. Church leaders also have argued that contributing to an insurance pool, which includes others covered by the mandate, is tantamount to being forced to sin.

By contrast, evangelical Christians, a voting bloc that helped put President Trump in the White House, generally do not discourage the use of birth control. In many Protestant and evangelical congregations, contraception — including sterilization — is viewed as a normal and responsible practice for married Christian couples.

Most Americans support the birth control mandate. A 2015 Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll found 77 percent of women and 64 percent of men support laws requiring health plans to cover the cost of birth control. This is not surprising given that in 2013 alone, it helped women save an estimated $1.4 billion, according to the National Women’s Law Center.

Sun Sentinel
October 19, 2017

There are few things more profoundly important to a woman than controlling when and if she has children. Almost all sexually active women have used at least one type of birth control in their lifetimes. One of the hallmarks of the 2010 Affordable Care Act is that it promised women comprehensive preventive care at no out-of-pocket cost if they were covered by employer-sponsored health insurance plans. Under regulations adopted under the Obama administration, that care included 18 methods of contraception.

Then, in October, the Trump administration put into place — without the required advance notice or opportunity for public comment — far-reaching new rules offering full exemptions to employers who claimed a religious objection to contraception and also to those who claimed a “moral objection.” The exemptions would be available to private companies of all sizes as well as nonprofits. And those companies would not be required to offer the workaround that guaranteed contraceptive coverage for their female employees at no cost to the employer.

In the tortured history of birth control coverage under the ACA, the government has made change after change to placate employers who objected on religious grounds to covering birth control. Now, the Trump administration has essentially neutered the mandate entirely, allowing any employer with any religious or moral objection to refuse to offer birth control coverage — without any requirement that they allow their insurance company to make an accommodation.

It is unjust and un-economical to deprive women of easy and affordable access to birth control. The issue here should not be an employer’s religious or moral beliefs but the needs, beliefs, health, and safety of the employee.

The new rules should be permanently rolled back. The Trump administration should not impose its wrongheaded moral principles on the rest of us by denying birth control coverage to women.

Los Angeles Times
January 2, 2018


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