President Donald J. Trump is giving employers the opportunity to deny contraception coverage to their female employees.
Come January, employers can renew their health insurance plans. Included is the allowance of denying women coverage for birth control.
“Birth control is a basic health care and should not be up for debate,” said Executive Vice President for Planned Parenthood Federation of America Dawn Laguens. “Today, more women graduate, lead and innovate than at any point in our history, and that’s true in large part for one very important reason: access to birth control. But now, our basic health care—and all that progress—is threatened by an administration bent on taking us backwards.”
Under the Affordable Care Act, female contraceptive coverage is mandated by all employers (excluding churches and houses of worship); it is known as the contraceptive mandate. With Trump’s decision, any company with religious beliefs will have the opportunity to deny their female employees coverage.
A rule made by the International Revenue Service, Employee Benefits Security Administration and the Health and Human Services Department states the following: “Many persons and entities object to this mandate in part because they consider some forms of FDA approved contraceptives to be abortifacients and morally equivalent to abortion due to the possibility that some of the items may have the effect of preventing the implantation of a human embryo after fertilization.”
The New York Times reported that with the contraceptive mandate, over 55 million women have access to birth control without a co-payment. Those 55 million women are now at risk for losing that coverage with the Trump Administration.
“I feel it’s ridiculous. If employers are going to provide healthcare for their staff they shouldn’t exclude birth control for whatever personal reason they have against it,” said Nicole Azzara, a junior at West Chester University. “There are multiple reasons people use birth control such as endometriosis, a condition in the uterus that can cause women to miss work because they are getting sick from that.”
Birth control has been used for a plethora of medical reasons including as a form of contraceptive, easing the pain of endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome, clearing acne and can even lower the risks of some cancers.
Not including birth control coverage could be life-changing and potentially lead to more missed days in the work-place.
Without birth control coverage it could cost more than $600 a year for the pill and over $800 for an intrauterine device (IUD). Both of these methods have proven to have high rates of effectiveness, the pill having 91 percent effectiveness and an IUD having 99 percent effectiveness.
In comparison, condoms cost on average a dollar each, yet they are only 85 percent effective according to plannedparenthood.org.
“I can receive free birth control through my insurance right now. I feel that it should not be my employer’s business whether or not I receive and use birth control,” said first-year graduate student Libby Ando. “It seems strange that they should care about that aspect of my life, as it’s private and does not affect them.”
Trump continues to impact the lives of women. Now employers can impact the healthcare received by their female employees.
“He has no business making decisions regarding women’s bodies like this. It’s like he’s destroying the role women play in society,” said senior WCU student Alexis Yates. “Women choose not to have children for a lot of reasons and in a lot of these cases to have a child could hurt society, because these women have plans to better the world and having a child could change that for them.”
According to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, 99 percent of sexually experienced women have used birth control and 98 percent of sexually experienced Catholic women have used birth control at some point in their lives.
“Anyone who needs access to medical care or a prescription should be able to do so without the beliefs of their employer or politicians impeding their access,” said Alicia Hahn-Murphy, director of the Center for Women and Gender Equity. “Birth control is not just a choice for family planning but sometimes a medical necessity. Those choices should happen between a person and their trusted medical professional.”
Erin McFeeters is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at EM857951@wcupa.edu.
Alexa Brennan is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at AP713454@wcupa.edu.