As a part of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, all new health insurance plans were required to cover female contraceptives, otherwise known as birth control. And while this law made exemptions to churches, it did not make any for other religiously affiliated entities. Following the implementation of the mandate, many conservative politicians, religious groups, and proponents of religious liberty have advocated for its reversal on the grounds that it violated religious freedom and the first amendment.
And this past week, in a victory for opponents to the mandate, the Trump Administration announced the rollback of this policy, allowing for any employer to claim a religious or moral objection to providing birth control coverage to their employees. This has effectively allowed for companies to choose whether they would like to provide health plans that coverage female contraceptives.
This received a mixed reaction, with conservatives, men and women alike, praising this as both a win for religious freedom, as well as freedom in general, as many believe that no company should be forced to provide certain coverage if they don’t wish to. Conversely, many took to Twitter under the trending hashtag #HandsOffMyBC (Birth Control) to voice their opposition to the rollback of this Obama-era policy. Women’s groups, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), as well as California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, have all announced their plans to file a lawsuit against the Trump Administration, on the grounds that this policy will allow businesses to deny their workers much needed care.
However, despite the outrage, Bruce Japsen, a contributor at Forbes Magazine, wrote that there is little fear for alarm, as nearly 90% of businesses, according to a 2011 study that polled small, medium, and large-scale businesses, provide coverage voluntarily, even prior to the mandate’s implementation, and this reversal will have little net effect on birth control access.
However, the fight continues to require companies to provide birth control coverage, and the liberty to provide whatever coverage a business deems necessary, continues between women’s rights advocates and the Republican dominated federal government.
By Louis Gleason, Editor-in-Chief