From AU's Wall of Separation blog:
The vast majority of voters—82 percent—think birth control should be covered in health insurance plans, even if employers are morally opposed to it.
That’s according to a new survey released this month by research communications team PerryUndem and highlighted in this Rewire article. The survey outlines the views of voters on birth control access and religious objections.
Nearly all voters—96 percent—support women having access to birth control. Ninety percent of voters say birth control is not a religious issue for them, including high majorities of voters who said they are Catholic or regularly attend church services.
Just over 70 percent of respondents said they support the current Affordable Care Act (ACA) benefit that ensures employers include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans at no cost to employees.
And yet, President Donald Trump and his administration are trying to curtail women’s access to birth control. In October, the Department of Health and Humans Services issued new regulations that allow employers and universities to use religion as an excuse to deny employees and students birth control coverage in their health insurance plans.
Religious freedom gives us the right to believe or not as we see fit, but it does not give us the right to harm or discriminate against others. There’s no doubt who will be harmed by these new rules: women—especially low-income women who will no longer be able to afford basic, critical healthcare. This is discrimination, plain and simple.
That’s why Americans United, partnering with the National Women’s Law Center and the law firm Dentons, filed a federal lawsuit, Shiraef v. Hargan, to challenge Trump’s rules. We’re representing five women whose access to birth control is at risk: three University of Notre Dame students, including doctoral student Mary Shiraef; Alicia Baker of Indiana, a church employee whose insurance provider objects to some forms of birth control; and an employee of an Illinois university.
Our lawsuit explains that the rules are unconstitutional because they preference certain religious beliefs over others and excessively entangle the government and religion; they discriminate against women on the basis of sex and religion; and they violated legally required procedures for adopting new rules.
Most Americans understand that birth control is a vital component of women’s healthcare. It allows them to decide when and whether to start or grow their family, protects their health by treating common medical conditions and contributes to women’s equality by allowing them to pursue education and careers and even increases the chance they will earn more money.
We explained all of this to HHS earlier this month when we submitted comments objecting to the new rules. In fact, more than a half-million people submitted comments objecting to the new rules. And as the PerryUndem survey noted, this isn’t just a women’s issue—67 percent of voters also believe birth control access affects men’s lives, families and futures as well.
“These data confirm our hunch that birth control is uncontroversial among a large majority of the electorate,” the survey’s authors concluded. “Even large majorities of Catholic voters support access to birth control and do not consider birth control a religious issue in their own lives. More controversial are policies that may limit access to affordable contraceptives.”
Three-quarters of the survey’s respondents said employers should not be involved in their employees’ healthcare decisions. Women should have the sole right to make decisions about their own bodies and healthcare—not their bosses, universities or politicians.