GOP Prepares to Rob Women of Free Birth Control Provided by Health Insurance

by Kelly Macias –

Here we go … again. Republicans are hyper-obsessed with women’s bodies and our reproductive choices and they don’t hesitate to let the whole world know it through asinine statements and backward legislation. Unfortunately, they’ve been somewhat successful at limiting our reproductive rights at local levels. In Texas, with their latest law which bans insurance coverage for abortions with no exceptions, they’ve managed to raise their hatred of women to an art form. Now it looks like the GOP is continuing its assault on family planning with an upcoming rule that would eliminate free birth control through insurance providers.

The Trump administration is preparing to roll back the Obama-era free birth control mandate, a move legal groups say would be unconstitutional and subject to a court challenge.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the rule will be very similar to a draft version leaked in May, which would vastly expand the number and types of businesses eligible for an exemption from Obamacare’s rule requiring all employers to provide insurance coverage of all contraceptive methods without co-pays. If enacted as drafted, it would allow not only religious groups but thousands of non-profits and for-profit businesses to leave birth control out of their employees’ insurance altogether.

Why employers are interested in the sex lives and procreation of their employees in the first place is beyond comprehension. If anything, you’d think they welcome covering this kind of medication. If women are not forced to manage unwanted pregnancies, they are happier, healthier, and more productive. This rule is discriminatory against women. And it doesn’t just impact them but also their entire families because it means dealing with lack of access to contraception and also because, under this rule, family members lose their access to contraception, too.

Secondly, the new rule would allow all companies and organizations that currently use the accommodation to get the exemption instead, meaning all of their employees and their dependents would lose access to contraceptive coverage. While it’s difficult to calculate the exact impact of this change, a Kaiser survey in 2015 found that 3 percent of all non-profits in the country were requesting the accommodation, including 10 percent of all large non-profits with more than 5,000 workers. If all of those entities opted for the exemption, hundreds of thousands of women would lose access to no-cost contraception.

A basic tenet of nearly every religion is compassion and care for others. Yet Republicans have completely tainted Christianity with their dogmatic beliefs around abortion and reproductive choice and they are rabid about denying freedom and access to health care for women in this country and around the globe. Religious ideologies aside, this is a truly vile idea which will face more than its share of legal pushback.

Lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union, National Women’s Law Center and other groups say such a rule would violate government process rules, gender discrimination laws, the separation of church and state. […]

[Brigitte Amiri, an attorney working with the ACLU], who helped write the ACLU’s brief defending the birth control rule before the Supreme Court in 2014, said the rule could also be challenged as a violation of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, which dictates a separation between church and state.

“This rule allows employers to impose their religious beliefs on their employees,” she told TPM. “When you take a job at a church you know what you’re signing up for, but that’s very different than taking a job at a craft store or a university.”

Conservatives can and should be allowed to freely to practice any religion they choose. Luckily, our Constitution guarantees that right. However, what they should never be allowed to do is force the rest of us to live under their religious beliefs. This kind of infusion of religion and policy is shameful and inhumane, and it’s the very opposite of what the framers of the Constitution intended. This only guarantees that more women, especially poor women and women of color, will suffer.


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos