The Colorado Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice Coalition spoke out Wednesday after yet another leak from the White House exposed an attempt to strip women of contraceptive coverage.
The leaked draft of the regulation revealed a plan to dramatically scale back the Obamacare mandate that requires employers to offer health insurance plans that cover a wide array of contraceptive methods. If finalized, the plan would allow any employer to seek a moral or religious exemption from that requirement, many women who currently receive birth control coverage at no cost at risk of having to pay out of pocket for their medication.
The coalition released the following statement in response to the leaked plan:
“If the administration decides to move forward this policy, it would allow employers to push their own personal beliefs on others and decide what kind of care people can get – specifically whether or not they can get contraception. As a coalition that works to ensure that we each have the ability to make decisions about our bodies and our health care, to plan our families, to decide when we are ready to parent and to be able to raise our families with dignity this is not just concerning, it is infuriating. We should all have coverage for the full range of care that we need, including contraception.
The public is overwhelmingly opposed to allowing refusals that prevent people from obtaining the care they need. This proposed change is part of a dangerous political agenda that is harmful to women’s health.”
Since its inception, the birth control mandate has prompted fierce backlash from religious business owners, hospitals, and universities, due in large part to the requirement to cover particular types of contraception like intrauterine devices (IUDs) and emergency contraceptives that some religious groups view as forms of abortion.
Places of worship were completely exempt from the mandate, and the Obama administration gave some relief to religiously affiliated universities and hospitals. Following the landmark Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision, however, even “closely held” corporations could refuse to cover contraceptive costs if they claimed it violated their religious beliefs.
Now, under the Trump administration’s proposed plan, virtually any employer could claim religious exemption.
The ACLU of Colorado Public Policy Director Denise Maes said in a statement that although religious liberty is a fundamental right, “it cannot be used as an excuse to discriminate against or harm others. The right to decide when and whether to have a family is fundamental to women’s equality in the workforce and society.”
Joyce Lisbin of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado echoed the sentiment, stating that “contraception is crucial to women’s ability to achieve their true potential.” She added that “denying health insurance for contraception inordinately impacts women of color and women of lower economic status.”
Karla Gonzales Garcia of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) called the Trump administration’s plan “beyond troubling” given that “systemic barriers like poverty, language, and immigration status make accessing care more difficult for Latinas, resulting in ongoing health disparities and a higher rate of unintended pregnancy.”
To read the leaked document containing the proposed regulation, go here.