Editorial Excerpts
March 2019

Access to birth control is crucial to ensuring women can control their lives, plan their families, and, in many cases, manage ongoing medical conditions.

Yet by pushing to let more employers deny insurance coverage for contraceptives, the Trump administration is treating birth control as some kind of novelty, rather than the medical necessity it is for millions of women.

Final rules issued by the federal government this month will let many more employers claim religious or moral exemptions from providing birth control coverage. And, unlike in many cases before, a third party such as an insurance company will no longer be required to step in and provide that coverage when employers refuse to do so.

To preserve women’s access to birth control, the Trump administration should retract these rules, which are set to take effect January 14. If the administration fails to reconsider its approach, Congress should vote to override the new rules.

A separate proposal by the Trump administration would allow women whose employers claim a religious or moral exemption to access Title X family planning services, which are meant for low-income people. But this plan is woefully insufficient, given that the federal Title X program is already underfunded and unable to meet current levels of demand. Federal officials didn’t respond to a question this week about whether the administration would also try to increase funding for the Title X program.

Rather than continuing what promises to be a prolonged legal battle, federal officials should swiftly reverse course.

If they do not, members of Congress should not hesitate to pass legislation protecting women’s contraceptive coverage long into the future.

The Seattle Times
November 25, 2018

President Donald Trump is continuing his assault on the Affordable Care Act, and women’s health care is the latest casualty. The Trump administration issued new rules last year that are scheduled to take effect this month and would allow more employers to deny birth control coverage through their health plans. The rules are billed as “conscience protections” for employers with religious or moral objections to contraceptives, but where is the morality in denying millions of women basic health care?

The new rules would allow more entities to claim exemptions on religious grounds, under the illogical notion that a corporation can have religious beliefs. They also would let nonprofit organizations and small businesses claim non-religious moral convictions in denying birth control coverage. These rules aren’t upholding the constitutional right to freedom of religion — they’re contorting it by making a woman’s access to health care subject to the religious beliefs of her employer. That also amounts to blatant sex discrimination.

The administration also has proposed that women whose employers don’t provide birth control be allowed to obtain it from federally funded family planning clinics for low-income people. Those clinics already struggle to keep up with demand and never have enough money. Requiring them to spread their dollars even further to subsidize these new exemptions is an unnecessary drain on scarce public money. And this proposal comes with other bitter pills, including new restrictions and requirements on clinics that provide abortions.

By making it easier for employers to deny birth control coverage, the Trump administration would be making it harder for women to access basic health care and family planning measures. Religious organizations already enjoyed reasonable accommodations for opting not to provide contraceptives. The beliefs of CEOs, company presidents, and business owners should be irrelevant beyond their own families. Instead they are being elevated above the health needs of women.

Tampa Bay Times
January 2, 2019

 

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