The Trump administration is coming for women’s health and bodies

The Trump administration is coming for women’s health and bodies
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Ask a dozen women across the country why they use birth control, and their answers will be anything but uniform. Some will simply cite not wanting to be pregnant, while others may bring up serious medical conditions such as endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome.

But no matter who they are or what their reasons, there’s one theme that runs through every answer: women use birth control because it is fundamental to their place in this world.

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That’s why when the Trump administration announced a sweeping new rule that eliminates the requirement that all health insurance plans cover birth control, it was met with an outpouring of fury. Women took to Twitter to share their birth control stories. Employees called on their bosses to not put their access to birth control at risk.

 

It’s clear to the rest of the country, even if the message hasn’t gotten through to politicians in D.C.: Access to birth control is more than just a health issue. It’s about health, rights and economic equality.

For those of us who have been following along closely, this move from the administration, while shocking, isn’t exactly surprising. In every way imaginable, Trump has turned back the clock on women’s health and rights.

This administration has undermined the nation’s family planning program, rolled back safeguards for transgender people, threatened DACA recipients, revoked Obama's Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Orders, and spent months attempting to block millions from accessing preventive care at Planned Parenthood.  

Over the last six months, the administration has appointed radical, anti-birth control extremists to top positions in federal agencies and departments. And in case there was any doubt where his priorities lie, on his first full workday in office, Trump eliminated funding for programs that fight global maternal mortality.

Now the Trump administration has just taken direct aim at a woman’s fundamental right to decide whether and when she has children. The rule means that any employer can decide that a woman can no longer have birth control covered by her health insurance. They can object for religious reasons, or for a more nebulous “moral” objection standard.

Let’s be clear: This has nothing to do with religion. Under the Affordable Care Act religious organizations already had the ability to opt out of providing birth control, but the ACA still ensured their employees could get coverage through other means. Instead, this rule is about taking away women’s fundamental health care, plain and simple.

Access to birth control has been key for women’s progress. The Affordable Care Act’s birth control provision saved women an estimated $1.4 billion on birth control pills in its first year alone.  

In 2014, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked the invention of the pill as one of the top 10 most transformative moments in the business sector over the last 85 years. Access to birth control has not just opened up educational and career opportunities for women, but it has catapulted women into more management roles. In fact, a study showed that the pill is responsible for one-third of women’s wage gains relative to men since the 1960s.

Whether women in this country can take part in the progress we’ve made should not depend on who their bosses are. And an employer’s ideas about proper behavior for women should not determine their ability to plan their futures. Every day, Planned Parenthood doctors and clinicians see women for whom birth control makes school, a career, and providing for their families possible.

Do you know what happens when you come after women, and squarely after the progress they’ve fought for? They don’t leave it unanswered. After all, nearly nine out of 10 women of reproductive age will use birth control at some point in their lives. One in five women will go to Planned Parenthood for care. And nearly one in three women will need access to safe and legal abortion.

That’s why women are organizing in cities and states across the country to take back control of their own lives. Women defeated the disastrous TrumpCare, in all of its forms. And now women will stand up and fight back the same way against this attack on access to birth control.

You can’t un-liberate half the population of this country. We won’t let you.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president and chief brand and experience officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.