Trump makes moves to restrict birth control coverage

The current administration will roll back Obama-era rules that provide workers with free contraception on employers insurance plans

The Trump administration is currently working on a new rule that would overhaul coverage rules for reproductive services from the previous Obama-era. The new rule would mean employers could restrict birth control coverage in employee insurance plans based on their moral or religious objections.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, the new rule will be similar to a previously leaked draft: essentially, any employer under the very broad standard of ‘moral convictions’ – religious or otherwise – can refuse to offer insurance coverage for contraception.

Back in 2014, Burwell vs Hobby Lobby was a Supreme Court decision that first gave for-profit companies the ability to be exempted from providing contraceptive insurance coverage in the eyes of the Department of Health and Human Services, all for their religious beliefs. The case was brought by craft store Hobby Lobby , whose founder David Green had told NBC last year that providing access to the morning-after pill and contraceptive devices made them complicit to abortion. This new rule would give a much wider scope of employers the opportunity to do exactly the same.

As Fierce Healthcare reports, a Freedom of Information Act by the Centre of American Progress found that half of the requests for this kind of exemption came from for-profit companies across a range of industries, like agriculture, tax services, real estate and construction.

“The data suggest that Trump’s new rule could open up the floodgates for nearly anyone to force women to either pay out of pocket or navigate hurdles to obtaining additional coverage for contraception,” Jamila Taylor, senior fellow at Centre of American Progress, said in a press statement according to Mother Jones. “President Donald Trump and (HHS) Secretary Tom Price are, in effect, saying to women that any employer’s personal views can decide whether or not you get birth control.”

The new federal law rule would obliterate work by the Obama administration which allowed women, in some cases, to obtain birth control coverage even if employers declined.

More than 50 million women could be affected by this new rule and forced to pay for contraception themselves, as the Cut reports. Studies have shown that one in three women who vote already struggle to do so. This move would also totally go against public opinion, as according to a previous poll, 77 percent of women and 64 percent of men support no-co-pay contraception coverage.

The U.S has seen the Trump-era crusade against reproductive rights continue on a federal and state level this week. In Arkansas, an injunction that barred the state from revoking Medicaid funding from healthcare provider Planned Parenthood was lifted, following the release of questionable anti-abortion group videos. Texas Governor Greg Abbott also signed a law this week that requires women to pay an extra premium if they want their health plan to cover a termination that isn’t a medical emergency. The Centre of Investigative Reporting recently uncovered that Trump cut $213.6 million in fuding for teen birth control programs and research.

Elsewhere though, faith in accessible, vital healthcare prevails: governor Kate Brown in Oregon saw through a bill that requires insurance companies to provide cost-free productive health coverage that includes abortion services to all residents, the most expansive of its kind. Because always: people of any gender, ethnicity, citizenship or income bracket deserve fully accessible healthcare.