President Trump’s administration is on the verge of giving nearly all employers in our country the ability to request an exemption to the birth control coverage mandate. According to a leaked draft of the new rule, each employer will simply be able to cite religious of moral reasons for their exemption.
“The extent that they’ve expanded the exception is pretty shocking,” Mara Gandal-Powers, Senior Counsel for the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), said. “They’ve really opened the door to countless numbers of women having birth control exempted from their insurance coverage.”
This new rule is part of an executive order on religious freedom President Donald Trump issued in early May. Trump promised faith groups while standing in the Rose Garden that their “long ordeal” would “soon be over.” He was referring to their objections to participating in birth control coverage for their employees. Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, immediately praised the order from the president. His agency has authority over the rules governing birth control. Price has been a long time opponent of the contraception mandate. Prices’ agency is in the process of reviewing the “interim final rule,” which will be the last step before the order is implemented. After implementation, it will immediately affect policy, and it will have an immediate effect on a woman’s birth control copay.
“It’s really disturbing that this is their vision of what birth control coverage should look like,” said Gandal-Powers. “In their own words, from the preamble, they reweighed the government’s interests, and they think that, on the balance, making sure women have access to birth control is outweighed by people’s religious objections.” Gandal-Powers continued.
If and when this executive order is fully implemented, it would not just allow religious institutions or non-profits to be exempt, but almost any small business or even a university to seek exemptions from providing birth control coverage. The only recourse that the order is providing for women affected is through programs like Title X or Medicaid. And the present administration is planning huge cuts in those programs as well.
“This rule would mean women across the country could be denied insurance coverage for birth control on a whim from their employer or university,” Dana Singiser, Vice President of Public Policy at Planned Parenthood said in a statement. “Think about it: Under this rule, bosses would be able to impose their personal beliefs on their female employees’ private medical decisions.”
What are your thoughts about his new rule on employer’s exemptions for birth control?
Credit: Think Progress