Analysis: birth control under siege

Bruce Blaus

By BruceBlaus [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

Billie Firmin, Editor

In the latest move in the Trump administration’s war on women, the Department of Health and Human Services has announced that an Obama era mandate that requires employers to include birth control in their health insurance plans is no longer effective.

The new rule allows virtually any employer to deny their workers coverage for contraception by citing religious or moral objections.

This mandate is blatantly biased against women and towards Christian business owners and employers. The administration announced the rule change five months after Trump signed an executive order “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty” and after doing so announced that “we will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.” This statement is contradictory to Trump’s actions, as he effectively banned an entire religion from entering the United States.

To use or not to use birth control is a personal choice that should not be dictated by whether or not a woman can afford the pills. Without insurance, birth control pills can range from 15 dollars a month to 50 dollars a month. Many women do not have the resources to pay this amount out of pocket monthly on top of other costs.

The Trump administration seems to believe that the only purpose of birth control is to prevent pregnancy. But birth control is used to regulate menstrual cycles, prevent acne, ease symptoms of endometriosis, hormone replacement therapy, and to treat Primary Ovarian Insufficiency.

Teenage girls around the country, myself included, use birth control to regulate irregular periods and side effects such as heavy bleeding and painful cramping.

However, if a woman chooses to use birth control as a method of contraception, there is still absolutely nothing wrong with that choice. Unwanted pregnancies can be frightening, stressful, and dangerous, and women who are physically, emotionally, or financially unprepared to have children should be able to make their own choices regarding the issue of preventing pregnancy.

Republicans and religious groups are the largest demographic supporting the new ruling on birth control. The Catholic group the Little Sisters of the Poor, who challenged Obama’s original mandate in court, applauded the new ruling, as did Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who said it was “a landmark day for religious liberty”. This in itself is ironic, as these groups commonly oppose abortion as well. Studies show that when contraception is used, abortion rates fall. According to a 2014 study by the Guttmacher Institute, “The study released earlier this year reports that both the rate and the number of U.S. abortions had declined by 13% between 2008 and 2011, and that the abortion rate had reached its lowest level since 1973…between 2007 and 2009, the proportion of women younger than 30 who were at risk of unintended pregnancy but not using any method of contraception dropped by one-fifth, from 15% to 12% (a statistically significant change). Not only are women in this age-group traditionally at high risk of unintended pregnancy, but research also shows that among all women at risk of unintended pregnancy, the small proportion not using contraception (14%) account for more than half of all unintended pregnancies (54%).”

Politicians cannot be both anti-contraceptives and anti-abortion. Women do not exist just to have babies. Just because a woman has the ability to become pregnant and have a child does not mean that she should be forced to by men who write the laws.

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