By EMILY WEIKL
Women had few options to prevent becoming pregnant prior to modern birth control.
Today’s pill was yesterday’s abstinence and diaphragms. When such methods failed, women ended up pregnant when they didn’t want to be.
Birth control became legal for all citizens in 1972, and the Affordable Care Act enabled them to get it for free.
But a recent revision to the United States contraceptive coverage mandate could make it more difficult for women to get birth control.
“The new rule, which could go into effect as soon as it is published in the Federal Register, greatly expands the number of employers and insurers that could qualify for exemptions from the mandate by claiming a moral or religious objection, including for-pro t, publicly traded corporations,” according to the New York Times.
Women who work for the companies that claim an objection could soon face added hurdles to accessing birth control. Students could also have the same problem. Universities that provide health care can be considered employers for health insurance purposes.
Birth control has had many benefits to millions of women. A major one is allowing them to decide when, or if, they want to have children.
“In one survey of patients at family planning clinics [by the Guttenmacher Institute], 64 percent said birth control helped them extend their education, 71 percent said it helped them support themselves financially, and 77 percent said it helped them take care of themselves or their families,” according to Vox.
A consistent provider of birth control in the United States is Planned Parenthood. They provide it at little to no cost at 650 locations scattered across the country. Cecile Richards, the president of the organization, decried the revised contraceptive rule.
“The Trump administration just took direct aim at birth control coverage for 62 million women. This is an unacceptable attack on basic health care that the vast majority of women rely on,” Richards said in a statement from Oct. 2017. “With this rule in place, any employer could decide that their employees no longer have health insurance coverage for birth control.”
An anonymous employee from a Catholic university
was almost one of those people.
“When I was first hired, I was told that the school’s health plans did not cover contraceptives,” the anonymous woman wrote for Time.com. “However, after reading through the plan brochures and calling the insurance companies myself, I realized this wasn’t true. The school’s plans do cover birth control; my employer just didn’t want me to know.”
The employee wrote that she eventually did get authorization from the university and did receive the birth control that she wanted.
She felt that the work that they had to do to get it was unnecessary. She still works at the university and is aware of the possibility that some organizations will continue to deny birth control.
“I know that being able to make my own reproductive decisions was essential to creating the family and life I have right now, but I also know that many women aren’t as lucky,” the anonymous employee wrote.
Students at the University of Notre Dame could be among them. In Oct. 2017, Notre Dame students and employees were told that birth control would no longer be covered under plans offered by the university in 2018, according to Indiana Public Media.
“Thousands of Indiana women stand to lose their contraception coverage in coming months,” Slate reported, “putting them on the hook for a greater risk of unwanted pregnancies or, if they choose to pay out of pocket, thousands of dollars in expenses their male colleagues will never have to pay.”
Birth control now stands in the crosshairs of religion and moral objections for women who work in companies that choose to claim them. It should be protected solely because it helps women. Birth control gives women control, yet it is in the hands of those who can take it away. The prospect of it being restricted to a greater degree worries the anonymous employee.
“I think all women should be able to make their own decisions about whether to use birth control, and it was hurtful to be judged for my personal choices. I’m scared that if the religious organizations have their way in court, they will make it even easier for employers to prevent women from making the family planning decisions that are best for us.”