Birth Control is Basic Health Care and This Decision Puts the Health and Wellbeing of Thousands at Risk
SEATTLE – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld two Trump administration rules that allow employers and universities to push their religious or moral beliefs on employees and students by denying them access to insurance that covers birth control. Bosses and universities will be able to decide — based on their own objections — if their health insurance plans cover birth control.
“In 2020, we are fighting over birth control—let that sink in. Birth control is basic health care and it is not controversial — nearly nine in 10 people will use birth control in their lifetimes,” said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands (PPGNHI). “The dual public health crises of COVID-19 and systemic racism and violence are pushing people, our health care system, and our economy beyond their limits, and yet today, the Supreme Court has allowed the Trump administration to make essential health care even more difficult to access. Religious liberty is not a license to discriminate. The court should be ashamed, and you can be rest assured this is far from over. We will do all we can to ensure those who need birth control and other sexual and reproductive health care can access it.”
These Trump administration rules, blocked by lower courts, allow employers and universities to deny their employees and students coverage for contraceptive care.
The Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) birth control benefit has expanded contraceptive coverage with no out-of-pocket costs for more than 62 million women, including 17 million Latinas and 15 million Black women. The vast majority of Americans — nearly 3 out of 4 — support the ACA’s birth control benefit and believe that health plans should cover birth control at no cost, according to a 2014 survey.
The Movement for Black Lives, the COVID-19 health crisis, and the ongoing fight for abortion access have reached a tipping point across this country, leaving many of our most vulnerable struggling to survive. Now, people are being told they can be denied access to a basic human right that allows them the ability to delay and space childbearing, crucial to social and economic advancement and survival.
The fact that the U.S. is now in a recession compounds today’s global crisis. According to Guttmacher, during the 2008 Great Recession, nearly half (44%) of women surveyed reported that they wanted to reduce or delay childbearing because of the economy—64% of women agreed with the statement, “With the economy the way it is, I can’t afford to have a baby right now,”—23% of those same women had more difficulty paying for birth control.
Barriers to birth control access like these rules jeopardize the health, rights and livelihoods of the people hit hardest by this confluence of the public health and unemployment crises: women, specifically women of color, who are more likely to be essential workers. Sadly, for Black and brown people, whose bodies have been policed for hundreds of years, these kinds of dehumanizing tactics are not new. The ability to control if and when to have children is crucial for every person’s financial security, advancement, and — in times of economic turmoil — recovery.
Birth control is health care—treating painful conditions like endometriosis, mood disorders, and even helps to prevent life threatening ectopic pregnancies. In the middle of a global pandemic we should be increasing access to health care, not restricting it.