The new rule allows employers and insurers to be exempt from providing contraceptives based on religious and moral objections.
The Trump administration’s new rule allowing insurers and employers to opt out of covering contraceptives in the Affordable Care Act because of religious and moral objections brought swift condemnation from politicians and groups focused on women’s health care.
“President Trump wants to make birth control about ideology, but let’s be clear: for women and their families in the 21st century, birth control is about being healthy and financially secure — and allowing a woman’s employer to decide whether or not it’s part of her coverage not only takes women backward, but takes hundreds of dollars out of their bank accounts,” Sen. Patty Murray said in a statement.
Murray, who had been working with Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., to stabilize the ACA (also known as Obamacare), is pushing the Save Women’s Preventive Care Act, which would keep health care such as birth control from being eliminated from the ACA. She lamented Trump’s action given how vocal and mobilized women have been since his election.
“Today, nine months after women across the country marched together to reject President Trump’s anti-woman agenda, he has rolled out a tax on their health care. This is wrong, it’s outrageous, and I will be pushing every Republican who claims to care about women’s health and economic security to join me in fighting back against it,” Murray said.
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Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Medina, said in a statement that birth control is essential health care. “Not only does it help women plan their families — it’s also used by thousands of women to treat serious medical conditions, like endometriosis and ovarian cysts. Denying women medically necessary health care based on ideology is unjustifiable and wrong.”
Gov. Jay Inslee, in a news release, said: “Today the Trump administration took aim at birth control coverage for 62.4 million women nationwide. The president has turned a crucial health care tool for women into a senseless and reckless political ploy. There is no legitimate rationale for taking away women’s access to birth control, and there is no way we will allow this rollback of women’s health care to happen without a fight.”
During the presidential campaign, Trump promised to champion religious liberty. He signed an executive order expanding religious liberty in May. The new contraceptive rule, issued Friday by the Health and Human Services Department, will allow for-profit companies and nonprofits to cite a religious or moral objection to providing contraception in their heath-care plans.
The Family Policy Institute of Washington commended Trump for keeping his campaign promise.
“No American should be forced to violate his or her conscience; our First Amendment makes that clear. We all should have the liberty to work and live in line with our religious beliefs, without fear of government punishment,” said Chris Plante, chief operating officer and policy director for the institute. “Both of these actions are important steps to reversing the illegal actions of the previous administration and restoring a correct understanding of religious freedom in the United States.”
The announcement wasn’t a surprise, but is cause for concern, said Janet Varon, executive director of Northwest Health Law Advocates (NoHLA).
She said she hopes local companies and insurers will recognize the value of offering complete health care for women. She didn’t speculate on what, if any, company or organization in Washington state might take advantage of the new rule, saying, “those beliefs have no place in private decisions on women’s health care.”
Her group, along with NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, found after an investigation in 2015 that some carriers offering coverage in Washington under the ACA were providing wrong information about contraceptives. Insurers worked with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to fix the problem.