The Trump Administration put into effect a new rule allowing any company or nonprofit group to deny contraceptive coverage in their insurance plans for religious or moral reasons.
The new mandate weakens Obama-era regulations which required employers to cover birth control methods in their insurance plans.
With this rule, the Trump administration is ignoring scientific data and disregarding the various reasons women take birth control aside from avoiding an unwanted pregnancy.
The guidelines for proving a company’s refusal is based solely on religious or moral reasons are thin, which makes it easier for companies to deny contraception coverage. It’s my understanding after reading the document that the companies this rule is intended to accommodate are essentially religious in nature.
For example, in 2014 the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby after they argued the government’s law requiring them to provide contraceptive coverage went against their religious beliefs. The court ruled privately owned companies could also object on religious grounds.
The Department of Health and Human Services have said they expect only those companies that have already tried to sue against the Obama-era rule will seek exemptions, but this doesn’t justify the incorrect claims the Trump administration has made in its new document.
One of its most controversial claims is that the morning after pill is a form of early abortion. They state the pill “may not only prevent conception, but also may prevent implantation of an embryo.” ABC News reported that Princeton researcher James Trussell says the evidence that has most recently come out of studies shows “there is no post-fertilization effect.”
The Trump administration claims the Obama administration’s moves to make birth control easier to access had no direct impact on decreasing unintended pregnancies and abortions. Not only is this claim false, it also ignores the fact that women take birth control pills for more reasons than preventing unwanted pregnancies.
Birth control pills are often prescribed to treat dysmenorrhea, which is a condition in which menstrual pain becomes more severe than normal. Dysmenorrhea can either be primary or secondary; primary meaning it’s only caused by a menstrual cycle and secondary meaning there are other factors contributing to pain and discomfort.
One of the outside factors that can contribute to dysmenorrhea is a separate condition called endometriosis. This is when tissue that normally lines the uterus begins growing outside of the uterus. Endometriosis is incredibly painful and interferes with a woman’s ability to have children. According to the Seckin Endometriosis Center, the condition affects 176 million women worldwide.
Birth control pills are proven to treat severe period pain and weaken a woman’s chances of developing endometriosis, ovarian cysts and ovarian cancer. On top of that, oral contraceptives can help treat acne, anemia and anxiety.
This is where my personal grudge against anyone that tries to limit my access to pills comes in.
When I was a junior in high school, I woke up every morning in a fit of cold sweats and dry heaving that lasted anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, sometimes causing me to miss school that day. After suffering through this for a few months I decided to see a doctor. They concluded that my sudden, seemingly incurable anxiety was a result of a hormone imbalance and prescribed me a low dosage of birth control.
I went from having an anxiety attack every single day to having maybe a total of three since I started taking the pill. The women in my family also have a history of endometriosis and ovarian cancer so being on the pill for health reasons is undeniably the best option for me.
Regardless of the health benefits the pill can provide, it’s intended to prevent unwanted pregnancy and if a woman wants to take it for that reason alone, so be it.
According to the LA Times, the U.S. abortion rate hit its lowest point in 2016 since the procedure became legal in 1973. Although there wasn’t any direct study linking this to birth control, the Obamacare regulations allowing greater access to birth control is likely the biggest contributor to this finding.
It feels as though the contraception issue isn’t solely based on a company’s religious or moral objections. This feels like an attack on female sexuality and our ability to remain safe while taking part in a natural and normal human activity.
If my birth control was suddenly not covered by insurance, I would be paying roughly $14 every month for my pack of pills. I am currently in a financial state where I would be able to pay that for the remainder of the year, but some women are not so lucky.
Contraception gives women the opportunity to be in control of their bodies and offers several health benefits unrelated to having sex. The Trump administration’s new regulations could deprive millions of women of a basic right to a safe and affordable means of medication.