The Affordable Care Act, passed in 2012, included one provision in particular that was crucial to women’s health: It prevented employers from excluding birth control from employer-sponsored insurance plans just because they had a religious or moral objection to it. Now the Trump administration has decided to roll back that mandate, effective immediately, because every single thing Obama did must be undone and it’s perfectly reasonable for God-fearing employers to dictate what women can do with their bodies.
Also, per the newly published rule, we have to think about the children:
Imposing a coverage Mandate … could, among some populations, affect risky sexual behavior in a negative way. For example, it may not be a narrowly tailored way to advance the Government interests identified here to mandate contraceptive access to teenagers and young adults who are not already sexually active and at significant risk of unintended pregnancy.
Yup, teenagers who aren’t already having sex are going to be, like, “Woohoo! I had no intention of having sex any time soon, but now that it’s raining Ortho Tri-Cyclen, find me someone to fuck!” Of course, a survey tracking teen behavior since the 1990s shows that risky sexual behavior has gone down since 2012, but don’t let’s expect the facts to get in the way of Trump’s pandering to the religious right.
Let’s get one thing clear: This isn’t an issue of “free birth control,” as much as opponents like to characterize it as just a bunch of slutbags who are scooping up handfuls of baby-killing pills from a bin in front of the CVS so they can get down indiscriminately. The mandate under the ACA simply said that employers had to treat that particular kind of medication like they treated any other medication that they didn’t find icky and sinful (albeit without a co-pay). Women are still paying their share of their insurance premiums to be included within the pool. If your insurance policy doesn’t make Viagra or Prilosec “free,” it isn’t suddenly required to make birth control “free” — it just can’t make women pay out-of-pocket for that one kind of medication and not for the others.
(Of course, this was tested, and subsequently undermined, during the Hobby Lobby case in 2014, where the Supreme Court determined that Hobby Lobby could bow out because they’re a “closely held corporation” and if they believe, despite all medical evidence, that IUDs kill babies, that’s good enough for Paul and Silas. Which is why this rollback is so harmful — imagine if your employer decided that Lipitor makes angels fall from the sky and you should just stick to salad and hope for the best, heathen, and maybe that provision will start to seem a little more reasonable.)
The provision under the ACA meant that more than 55 million women have access to birth control without a copay — many of them for purposes other than family planning. Conditions like endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, fibroids, and PMDD can be incredibly painful for women, threaten their fertility, result in heavy medical costs, and cause missed work and school because of time spent at home or in the hospital. (That said, family planning is a perfectly valid reason for using birth control. Under the ACA, unintended pregnancy is currently at a 30-year low, and the abortion rate is at its lowest since the passage of Roe v. Wade.) Hundreds of thousands of women could lose coverage under the new rule.
Of course, HHS officials say that “99.9 percent of women” will be unaffected, which number they base on the 165 million women in the U.S., including the toddlers who, I grant you, will not be affected by this new rule.
So congratulations to all of the women who rushed to get IUDs immediately after the 2016 election — if anyone called you paranoid, track them down and ask them who’s laughing now. As for the rest of you, this wouldn’t be a bad time to run out and get one — you never know when your employer will decide “sincerely” that Mirena opens up the Sixth Seal to cause apocalyptic earthquakes and thus you’re on your own