As Trump Administration Rolls Back Birth Control Protections, Planned Parenthood Calls on Minnesota Lawmakers to Protect Access Through Bipartisan Legislation
October 9, 2017
In 2017, it is inconceivable that we are still fighting for basic health care, like birth control. Minnesota lawmakers should immediately announce legislation that will bar employers from denying birth control coverage to their employees. – Sarah Stoesz, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS)
ST. PAUL, MN – 10/6/2017 – The Trump administration has taken direct aim at birth control coverage for more than 62 million American women, eliminating the guarantee they had for coverage for birth control regardless of who they work for. On Friday morning, they announced a sweeping new rule to eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that all insurance plans must cover birth control without a co-pay or otherwise ensure access to birth control coverage for women whose employers or schools can legally opt out of providing coverage.
Statement from Sarah Stoesz, President and CEO of PPMNS:
“In Minnesota, unintended pregnancy is at an all-time low. Teen pregnancy and birth rates are at historic lows. The abortion rate is at the lowest level since Roe vs. Wade. Therefore, it is unthinkable that the Trump Administration continues to do everything in its power to cut women off from health care access and birth control.”
“With today’s announcement, any Minnesota employer, no matter how large or small, can decide to eliminate coverage for birth control for their employees. This makes no economic sense and it flies in the face of scientific and medical evidence that overwhelmingly shows that birth control helps women, families and communities stay healthy.
“In 2017, it is inconceivable that we are still fighting for basic health care, like birth control. We call on Minnesota lawmakers to take swift action. The time to protect the progress we’ve made in Minnesota on these important public health and economic issues for women – is NOW.”
“We call on Minnesota legislators to join other states such as Illinois, Oregon and Maryland, to enact bipartisan legislation that will bar employers from denying birth control coverage to their employees and ensure access to contraception at no out-of-pocket cost as required by the ACA.”
“Politicians and bosses have no business denying women access to this basic health care. All women, no matter who their boss is, deserve access to the benefits provided through the Affordable Care Act, including birth control coverage.”
The Affordable Care Act includes a provision that includes s birth control as preventive health care — requiring health insurance plans cover birth control without a copay. The Obama administration later worked out an accommodation allowing religious-affiliated employers and schools to refuse to cover birth control on religious grounds, while ensuring their employees would still have health coverage provided directly by the health insurance company.
The rule proposed by the Trump administration today would change that, allowing any employer (nonprofit, small business, large corporation, private or publicly-held), school, or other entity to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage for religious or moral reasons -- a standard unprecedented in its vagueness. It also eliminates the guarantee that women will continue to receive coverage for birth control regardless of their employer’s beliefs by making the accommodation voluntary.
The rule is peppered with anti-contraception language, making its real purpose clear. For example, the leaked rule rejects the notion that there is a connection between coverage for birth control and reducing unintended pregnancy.
The rule will go into effect immediately, with a comment period ending on December 5.
BACKGROUND ON BIRTH CONTROL:
FACT: Nearly nine in 10 women of reproductive age will use contraception at some point in their lives, whether for family planning or other medical reasons like treating endometriosis.
FACT: We are at the lowest rate of unintended pregnancy in 30 years, and a historic low of pregnancy among teens because of expanded access to birth control and sex education.
FACT: The Affordable Care Act’s birth control provision saved women an estimated $1.4 billion on birth control pills in its first year alone. Thanks to this benefit, more than 62 million women now have access to birth control without copayments.
FACT: According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, after the Affordable Care Act’s birth control provision took effect, fewer than 4 percent of American women had to pay out of pocket for oral birth control. That number was more than 20 percent before the law’s passage.
FACT: A 2010 Hart Research poll, conducted before the Affordable Care Act’s birth control provision went into effect, found that one in three women voters had struggled to afford prescription birth controls, including 57 percent of young women aged 18 to 34.
FACT: The rule comes just weeks after the Senate rejected deeply unpopular attempts to pass Graham-Cassidy, the latest version of Trumpcare, which would have eliminated the requirement that health insurance cover birth control.
FACT: According to recent FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, most companies already getting Obamacare birth control waivers aren't even religious groups. Vox reports that in fact, over half of the groups who applied for and received exemptions were for-profit companies and corporations.
FACT: 86 percent of Americans (including 91% of Democrats and 83% of Republicans) support policies that make it easier to get the full range of birth control methods.
FACT: Access to birth control can help reduce maternal and event infant mortality. In 1965, at the time of the Griswold v. Connecticut decision, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that provided the first constitutional protection for birth control, 32 women were dying for every 100,000 live births in America. Today, the rate is less than half that. Infant mortality has fallen even faster – from 25 deaths to six deaths per 1,000 live births.
FACT: Women use birth control for a variety of reasons — in fact, 58 percent of all women who use the pill rely on it, at least in part, for something other than pregnancy prevention, including endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome — which is prevalent among women of color — fibroids, and menstrual regulation.
FACT: In 2014, Bloomberg Businessweek also ranked the invention of the pill is one of the top 10 most transformative moments in the business sector over the last 85 years. Access to birth control has not just opened up educational and career opportunities for women, but it has catapulted women into more management roles. In fact, a study showed that the pill is responsible for one-third of women’s wage gains relative to men since the 1960s.
BACKGROUND ON TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S ANTI-BIRTH CONTROL APPOINTEES:
Just look at who's at the helm of Trump’s HHS. President Trump has systematically filled key Administration positions with anti-science, anti-women’s health extremists, including:
• Title X National Family Program Overseer Teresa Manning, a former lobbyist for the National Right to Life Committee and policy analyst for the Family Research Council,claimed in an interview with WBUR that “contraception doesn’t work,” and stated on C-SPAN that she does not believe the federal government should run family planning programs.
• CMS Administrator Seema Verma, who runs Medicaid and Medicare, two of the programs that provide the most health care to women of all ages, believes that maternity coverage should be optional.
• FDA Chief Scott Gottlieb who says that women’s access to birth control under the Affordable Care Act has been harmful to women.
• HHS Top Spokesperson Charmaine Yoest, who has touted phony claims that abortion causes breast cancer that are based in junk science and spent years as an anti-abortion extremist.
• Valerie Huber, Chief of Staff for Don Wright, now the Acting Secretary of HHS, is an anti-sex education activist and CEO and of Ascend, formerly known as the National Abstinence Education Association, is now responsible for key programs in this country to reduce unintended pregnancy and ensure young people’s health.
• Domestic Policy Council Member Katy Talento believes that birth control causes miscarriages and abortions. Talento, who is vehemently opposed to basic contraceptive coverage, is now responsible for helping shape health care legislation that will impact millions of women for years to come
• HHS Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs head Jane Norton, a staunch opponent of Planned Parenthood who spent the majority of her political career in Colorado attempting to cut women off from this health care provider.
• (Current) Acting Health and Human Services Secretary Don Wright’s department has voiced opposition to requirements that doctors provide women seeking abortions with medically accurate referrals.
BACKGROUND: Women’s health has been in the crosshairs since day one of the Trump administration.
In less than a year, President Donald Trump and his administration have:
• Signed a Sweeping Executive Order Directly Targeting Women’s Access to Birth Control. The executive order directed the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Treasury, and Labor to consider issuing policy that would allow employers, schools, and other entities to refuse to cover women’s preventive health services, including birth control, in their insurance plans on the basis of religious or moral objection.
• Expanded the Global Gag Rule. Within his first few days in office, Trump’s administration took direct aim at vulnerable women and their families around the world by reinstating and, for the first time in history, expanding the already dangerous legislation.
• Undermined Title X, the Nation’s Family Planning Program. Vice President Mike Pence took direct aim at basic health care for women across the country, casting the tie-breaking vote in the Senate to dismantle President Obama’s rule protecting access to basic health care services through the Title X family planning program. President Donald Trump then signed the bill into law behind closed doors. Four million people across the country rely on the Title X program for essential health care like birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and well-woman exams.
• Took Aim at Women’s Health Care in Order to Pass Trumpcare. In an attempt to force through the administration's already-unpopular bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the administration backed legislation that would end maternity coverage for women, force new moms back to work, ban abortion coverage, raise insurance costs for women, and requiring people with “preexisting conditions,” including having given birth or being the survivor of domestic violence, to pay more for health insurance..
• Advocated to “Defund” Planned Parenthood and Block Millions From Essential Health Care Like Birth Control, Cancer Screenings, Well-Woman Exams, and More. Each version of the disastrous Trumpcare bill had hidden inside it an extremely harmful provision that would “defund” Planned Parenthood, or specifically, prohibit people with Medicaid coverage from accessing preventive health care at Planned Parenthood health centers, including birth control, cancer screenings, and STD testing and treatment. Many of these patients would have nowhere else to go for care. Those who already face barriers to accessing health care – especially people of color, people with low incomes, and people who live in rural areas – would be hardest hit. And it wasn’t just in Trumpcare. The Trump administration’s budget had an even broader provision hidden inside, preventing Planned Parenthood from serving any patient through a federal program, and making it the first budget in history to call out a single health care provider by name.
• Backed a Dangerous Abortion Ban. The Trump Administration announced they would support and sign legislation to ban abortion at 20 weeks if it reached the White House. Nearly 99 percent of abortions in the U.S. occur before 21 weeks, and often, abortions later in pregnancy involve rare, severe fetal anomalies and serious risks to the woman’s health. Doctors, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, oppose these laws.
• Ending U.S. Funding for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). UNFPA is a vital organization, and a leading force in preventing maternal mortality and unintended pregnancy in countries around the world. On April 3, the Trump administration revealed that they were eliminating U.S. funding for UNFPA, putting women's lives at risk.
• Cutting funding for teen pregnancy prevention and existing Title X grants. At the beginning of July, HHS notified all 81 Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) grantees, as well as existing Title X grant recipients, that their project periods were shortened and would end on June 30, 2018.
• Eliminating protections for survivors of sexual harassment and assault. On September 22, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that she was doing away with the Obama administration Title IX guidance, intended to assist schools in handling sexual assault allegations, due to concerns about those accused of sexual assault.
• Appointing Anti-Abortion Judges. Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court – a judge whose views are so outside of the mainstream that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had to change the rules in order to force through his confirmation. In every case related to reproductive rights that Gorsuch considered as a judge on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, he ruled in a way that would have blocked women's access to reproductive health care. Trump has also appointed a number of anti women’s health lower court judges.