Nearly nine in 10 women of reproductive age will use contraception at some point in their lives. Birth control should be treated like any other preventive medical care.
I can’t believe we still have to say this in 2017, but birth control isn’t controversial. It’s essential health care.
On Oct. 6, the Trump administration eliminated guaranteed birth-control coverage for 62 million people, including nearly 1.4 million women in Washington state. This is an attack on basic health care that the vast majority of people rely on.
Now, any employer can decide that a woman can’t have birth control covered by her health insurance, for literally any reason. There is absolutely a double standard in how insurance carriers and the government have treated Viagra and prescription contraceptives. What men need is treated as sacrosanct. What women need is treated as an add on, something they can get as long as no one objects on either religious or moral grounds. A shocking precedent to set.
Nearly nine in 10 women of reproductive age will use contraception at some point in their lives, whether for family planning or other medical reasons like treating endometriosis. Birth control should be treated like any other preventive medical care.
Not only can employers rescind this coverage, but colleges and universities can too. Students at Catholic-affiliated institutions, including the University of Notre Dame, have already voiced their fear of losing this coverage.
We know, because we saw this with Hobby Lobby, and employers will pay a price for eliminating this coverage. It isn’t good business and it isn’t in the best interest of the employees. Access to contraception improves people’s lives. It provides health and economic security.
Kodak recently announced it will continue to cover birth control. The CEO, Jeff Clarke said in a memo, Kodak needs to appeal to women leaders and employees to achieve “competitive business results.” We hope to see more companies follow suit.
In the months since Trump has taken office, we’ve seen an assault on health and rights, and a fundamental disdain for the reality of people’s health and lives. This decision is part and parcel to the administration’s focus on undermining people’s rights at every turn — by dissolving the nation’s family planning program, rolling back safeguards for transgender students, threatening Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, revoking Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces orders, attempting to block millions from accessing preventive care at Planned Parenthood, and so much more.
Fortunately, here in Washington state we have people in charge who want to fight back against these dangerous decisions and lead the resistance. Attorney General Bob Ferguson wasted no time in filing a lawsuit against the administration’s attack on birth control, as this rule is in direct violation of the Constitution and the Affordable Care Act.
In addition, our reproductive-health champions in the state House and Senate, such as Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett; Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens and Sen. Lisa Wellman, D-Mercer Island, continue to fight back. And right now, we have an opportunity to make progress on key issues related to health care, reproductive rights, equal pay, gun responsibility — and the list goes on.
The bottom line is, birth control reduces the risk of unintended pregnancy, and increasing access to birth control means greater use of birth control. We all deserve affordable and accessible birth control that works for us. These decisions should be made with our doctors — not our legislators, insurance companies or our employers. Consistent access to birth control gives women the ability to control when and if they have children, giving them more career and educational opportunities, and healthier pregnancies. And they are less likely to be dependent on government programs.
The idea that I wouldn’t cover some of the services my staff and their families need, only to satisfy my own beliefs, would be unconscionable. Just as I don’t tell my staff what to do with their paychecks, I don’t tell them how they must use their insurance. It’s none of my business.