Denying Contraceptive Coverage Places Barriers Between Women and Basic Care

Denying Contraceptive Coverage Places Barriers Between Women and Basic Care
“As a result of this ruling women across the country will have to worry that depending on where they work, the insurance plan they pay for may not provide them with access to the contraceptive care they need and that is right for them,” writes Sealy. (Joe Brusky / Flickr)

In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court recently allowed employers to cherry pick what constitutes appropriate health care for women based on any religious or moral objection.

The ruling, unconscionable for a variety of reasons, disregards women’s ability to make decisions about their own reproductive well-being and allows employers to decide whether the insurance their employees pay for will cover contraception. The Court has set a dangerous precedent that empowers employers to deny their employees some or all methods of contraception.

The ruling is devastating for women covered by plans that will now be free to deny contraceptive coverage.

According to data from Power to Decide, the majority of adults (76 percent) believe that birth control is a basic part of women’s health care. Equally as telling, the majority of adults (86 percent)—regardless of race, ethnicity, region and political affiliation—support access to the full range of birth control methods.

Further, the majority of women (99 percent) who have ever had sex with men have used a method of contraception at some point in their lives. 

Yet, despite overwhelming support for contraception, the ruling allows employers to single it out and makes women financially responsible for the full cost of this most fundamental part of their reproductive well-being. As a result, contraception will be too expensive for some women to afford.


Here at Ms., our team is continuing to report through this global health crisis—doing what we can to keep you informed and up-to-date on some of the most underreported issues of this pandemic. We ask that you consider supporting our work to bring you substantive, unique reporting—we can’t do it without you. Support our independent reporting and truth-telling for as little as $5 per month.


Studies confirm that cost is a major determinant of whether people are able to obtain the contraceptive method that’s right for them. The most effective contraceptive methods, which include IUDs and implants, can cost hundreds of dollars or even more.

In fact, without insurance many women would need to pay more than $1,000 to start using one of these methods—nearly one month’s salary for a woman working full-time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. 

It shocks the conscience that as a result of this ruling women across the country will have to worry that depending on where they work, the insurance plan they pay for may not provide them with access to the contraceptive care they need and that is right for them.

Denying Contraceptive Coverage Places Barriers Between Women and Basic Care
A “Women of Steel” statue in Sheffield, U.K. (Tim Dennell / Flickr)

This decision also comes at a time when a growing number of people are struggling to make ends meet. The pandemic has placed tremendous financial stress on working families who today need their access to basic health care expanded rather than limited. Studies suggest an increased demand for contraception as couples postpone pregnancy until it is both safer and until they feel more financially secure.

We must continue to fight against veiled attempts to curve contraception access which include outdated and misguided misconceptions regarding contraception.

We call on Congress to block these arbitrary rules and immediately pass the “Protect Access to Birth Control Act” which would stop these harmful exemptions to birth control coverage from going into effect. Such action would help ensure women’s power to decide if, when and under what circumstances to get pregnant.  


The coronavirus pandemic and the response by federal, state and local authorities is fast-movingDuring this time, Ms. is keeping a focus on aspects of the crisis—especially as it impacts women and their families—often not reported by mainstream media. If you found this article helpful, please consider supporting our independent reporting and truth-telling for as little as $5 per month.

About

Gillian Sealy is the CEO of Power to Decide, an organization that works to ensure all young people have the power to decide if, when and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child.