WASHINGTON - Wednesday marks the 52nd anniversary of of Griswold v. Connecticut, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that recognized the first constitutional protection for birth control and helped lay the groundwork for women to be able to to decide when and if they want to have a child. It comes as the Trump administration is expected to try to roll back access to birth control threatening its social, economic, and health benefits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 9 in 10 sexually active women have used a form of highly effective birth control covered by the Affordable Care Act.  

Statement of Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

Over the past half century, birth control has provided enormous benefits to women and their families, and has been nothing short of revolutionary for women and society. But under the Trump administration, we are now facing an immediate future where a woman's ability to make a most basic and personal decision – when and if to have a child -- could be limited by her boss. If the administration moves forward with a proposal leaked last week, women across the country could be denied insurance coverage for birth control on a whim from their employer or university. And this is just the latest attack on women’s access to care by the Trump administration, which has advanced health repeal legislation that is the worst bill for women’s health in a generation and appointed an anti-birth control extremist to head the nation’s family planning program. In this moment, on the anniversary of the Griswold decision, we are at risk of losing a lifetime of progress.

Background:

When women have access to birth control, they can better plan and space their pregnancies, which improves health outcomes and enhances their lives and those of their families. Today, birth control has dramatically improved the ability of women to participate actively in the U.S. economy. One-third of wage gains women have made since the 1960s are the result of access to oral contraceptives, and young adults' access to the pill has been concluded to be the most influential factor in enabling women to stay in college. We're at a historic low in teen pregnancy, and a 30-year low in unintended pregnancies, which researchers have attributed in part to the increase in access, especially to highly effective methods of birth control. Under the Affordable Care Act, almost all plans are required to cover the full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods at no additional cost.

But President Donald Trump and his administration are taking steps to roll back access to birth control under the ACA and threaten the social, economic, and health benefits that women have now depended on for generations. This is the opposite of investing in “women’s empowerment” as the White House often claims to do. This is trading away a universal social good to appease political extremists.

A leaked rule, shows the Trump administration’s intent to significantly roll back access to birth control coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Under the Obama administration, even if your employer objected to birth control, nearly every woman was guaranteed to still have it covered by her insurance company at no out-of-pocket cost. Thanks to this benefit, more than 55 million women now have access to birth control without copayments, which saved them an estimated $1.4 billion in the first year alone. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, after the Affordable Care Act’s birth control provision took effect, fewer than 4 percent of American women had to pay out of pocket for birth control pills. That number was more than 20 percent before the law’s passage. The Trump administration’s rule - at least in its leaked form - would take us backwards.

This new rule would mean no matter where she works or goes to school, from private universities to huge, publicly-traded companies, any woman across the country could be denied insurance coverage for birth control based on her employer’s or school administrator’s decision. And out-of-pocket costs for birth control can run hundreds of dollars -- extra money that many women simply don't have.

The majority of American people don’t agree with a change to birth control access like the one the Trump administration is considering. A 2016 poll from the Pew Research Center found that 67 percent of Americans (including 65 percent of Catholics and 47 percent of Republicans) believe that employers should be required to cover birth control -- even when employers claim a religious objection.  

This is yet another piece of the Trump administration's broader anti-women’s health agenda. The Trump administration’s leaked draft specifically names Medicaid, Title X, health centers grants, and TANF as alternatives for women who cannot afford birth control to turn to if their employer objects. Yet, many of the alternatives the leaked draft rule explicitly lists are the same programs the Trump budget and the ACA repeal bill are trying to simultaneously gut. The health repeal bill would go even farther - ending insurance coverage for millions of people, allowing insurances companies to once again charge women more for the same coverage, and cutting women off from Planned Parenthood’s basic health care.

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Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.