President Donald J. Trump announced a rollback on the federal rules requiring employers to provide birth control coverage to employees.
The new rules will expand employer powers to stop covering birth control contraceptive services “based on its sincerely held religious beliefs” or “moral convictions.” According to the New York Times, this will cause hundreds of thousands of women to lose their contraceptive benefits. It remains to be seen, however, how many employers will choose to avoid paying the modest costs for birth control versus paying the average of about $11,000 for an uncomplicated birth plus maternal leave costs.
The Trump administration has cited a list of health risks associated with some birth control methods as a reason for the amendments, and claimed the Obama-era mandate could promote “risky sexual behavior.”
It also said the new rules, which will take effect immediately, seek “to better balance the interests” of women with those of employers.
These amendments will mark an end to regulations under the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) that required almost all employer health insurance plans to offer no-cost birth control to employees.
A study commissioned by the Obama administration found that more than 55 million women have access to birth control under the mandate.
Catholic church-affiliated organizations have been some of the most vocal opponents to the contraceptive care rule.
Houses of worship and nonprofits with religious affiliations previously received exemptions that allowed them to “opt out” of contraceptive coverage and instead have third-party insurers foot the bill, reported the Washington Post.
Organizations said covering birth control costs was equivalent to being forced to be complicit in a sin by the government, the Post reported.
Women’s reproductive rights was a contentious topic throughout Trump’s presidential campaign. The president even formed the “Pro-Life Coalition” during his campaign promising to chip away at federal abortion funding.
On October 3, the House of Representatives passed a nationwide ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless in cases of incest, rape, or where the life of the mother is at risk. However, opponents argue 20-week abortion bans are unconstitutional.