The Trump administration is working on a new rule that would strip countless women of access to contraception, but that’s not stopping birth-control opponents from ramping up their efforts to ensure that women lose access to essential healthcare as soon as possible.
In one of the cases challenging the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that most employers cover contraception in their employees’ health insurance plans, the Catholic Benefits Association showed its impatience when it filed a motion asking a federal appeals court to say the requirement violates religious freedom. In the event the court refuses to do so, the Association also asked the government to drop its appeal of the case and thus allow the Association to stop covering contraception in its insurance plans. Religious freedom, however, does not give anyone the right to deny women access to birth control.
The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also seems annoyed. He’s disappointed that the Trump administration has yet to allow religion to be used as an excuse to deny women access to contraception. Birth control protects women’s health and helps women plan their families; it allows them to participate in the workforce and pursue their education. In other words, it is critical to their health and equality and allows them to fully participate in life—something he completely ignores. Religious freedom is a fundamental American value. So is the right to make decisions for yourself about your own healthcare. The Trump administration’s new rule will betray both.
And there was recently a report on the Trump administration’s reliance on phony science in its efforts to reverse the contraception rule. Increased access to the most effective forms of birth control has reduced the rates of unplanned pregnancies and abortions, but the administration relies on “research” from the Susan B. Anthony List—an anti-choice organization—and an article published by a Catholic law school to argue that that’s not the case. This is a trend for the administration: for example, Teresa Manning—who oversees all federal family planning services—doesn’t believe that contraception prevents pregnancy. Moreover, contraception is a core part of a woman’s healthcare. Stripping away that coverage is discrimination—and that’s just wrong.
Americans United has been fighting these attacks on women’s healthcare in court, representing students at the University of Notre Dame who risk losing contraception coverage if the Trump administration weakens the coverage requirement. And we’ll continue to fight in court and in the legislatures to ensure that women have access to essential healthcare.