The Trump administration today announced new rules that dismantle the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, creating loopholes that allow employers and insurance companies to deny women access to birth control.
Under the Affordable Care Act, employers and insurance companies were required to provide plans that covered birth control without co-pays or deductibles—saving millions of women thousands of dollars over their lifetimes. Two new interim rules will now water-down that mandate, allowing religious exemptions for employers and insurance companies—whether profit-making or not—from providing coverage to employees or enrollees that provides them with access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare. When White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked today in a briefing to respond to the millions of women who will lose their access because of the administration’s decision, she laughed.
“These new rules are, by definition, a discriminatory attack on women,” said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority, in a statement. “Women’s bodies and healthcare should not be subject to the opinion of their employer. For right-wing, self-righteous politicians to even suggest so is misogynistic, patronizing lunacy… Broadening the exemption allows any employer or insurance company with a ‘moral’ objection to opt out of coverage, sending a clear message to women in America: your body doesn’t belong to you.”
Kelli Musick, the National Campus Coordinator for the CHOICES Feminist Leadership program, echoed Smeal in a statement. “Women’s bodies should not be subject to the opinion of their employer or their university,” she said. “This is our future that is being shaken and disrupted by the misogynistic Trump-Pence agenda.”
The ACLU has announced that they are suing the Trump administration over the new rules, and they are collecting public comments for the case.
The Trump administration’s decision comes after four failed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, all of which specifically took aim at women’s reproductive healthcare. Though each Trumpcare bill varied in severity, they all banned federal funding for Planned Parenthood, chipped away at abortion and birth control coverage and slashed Medicaid funding.
“The administration couldn’t repeal the Affordable Care Act and kick over 32 million people off of health insuranc,” Smeal said, “so they have settled for undermining women’s access, not only to family planning, but also to contraception that’s used to treat serious medical conditions. And while the Trump administration is working to deny women access to birth control, the Republican-controlled Congress refuses to re-authorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, is voting to criminalize post-20 week abortion care and wants to eliminate the mandate that insurance companies cover maternity care. The GOP might insist they’re not waging a War on Women, but the facts prove otherwise.”