President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are busy trying to strip women of all health care rights. On Friday, they announced an expansion of exemptions for the mandate in the ACA that required employers to include birth control for women. The original exemption only included churches, religious non-profit organizations, and a couple of other employer-types, all based on religious grounds. By expanding the exemptions, Trump has basically abolished the mandate and potentially left millions of women without birth control coverage.
The ink was barely dry on the expansion order before the lawsuits started flying. First to file was Xavier Becerra, California Attorney General, who:
‘ … filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Trump-Pence Administration’s new rules that will deny access to contraceptives for millions of women and their families by allowing employers to interfere with healthcare. The rules jeopardize the Affordable Care Act requirement that employers provide coverage of birth control for employees and their covered dependents with no out-of-pocket costs. To date, 62 million women across the country have benefited from these reproductive health services.’
In his official statement, Becerra wrote:
‘Donald Trump wants businesses and corporations to control family planning decisions rather than a woman in consultation with her doctor. These anti-women’s health regulations prove once again that the Trump Administration is willing to trample on people’s rights. What group of Americans will they target next? Will they allow businesses to deny you cancer treatment? Will they exclude you from insurance coverage because of a pre-existing health condition? The California Department of Justice will fight to protect every woman’s right to healthcare, including reproductive healthcare. We’ll see the Trump Administration in court.’
Indeed, who will they target next? As it stands right now, pet owners have more insurance options for the family pet than women are going to end up with.
Becerra wasn’t alone. Later Friday, another suit was filed in Massachusetts by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. Healey said in a statement:
‘The Trump administration’s actions today are a direct attack on women’s health and the right to access affordable and reliable contraception.
‘By gutting this mandate, the religious belief of employers will replace the basic right of a woman to care for herself and her family. My office has been vigilant when it comes to fighting for health care coverage and ensuring equality in the workplace.’
The two states, combined, represent approximately 46 million women. That is a small number when you consider that there are 48 other states and women comprise around 50 percent of the populace.
While it may seem like this is only a “birth control” issue to Trump and Pence, who do not hold medical degrees, this is so much bigger. This will have a severe impact on women’s health in general.
Standard forms of birth control are not just used to prevent women from getting pregnant. Just a partial list of non-contraceptive uses of birth control from the NCBI website include, but are not limited to, the following:
‘Definitive evidence exists for protection against ovarian and endometrial cancers, benign breast disease, pelvic inflammatory disease requiring hospitalization, ectopic pregnancy, and iron-deficiency anemia. It has also been suggested that oral contraceptives may provide a benefit on bone mineral density, uterine fibroids, toxic shock syndrome, and colorectal cancer.’
Since that was from a government website, we don’t expect the information to remain there indefinitely as this administration has a habit of just deleting information that doesn’t fit within the narrow confines of their limited ability to comprehend.
This battle is just beginning.