President Trump attempted in October to overturn Obama-era legislation that mandates women’s access to birth control under the Affordable Care Act. Now, a federal judge has blocked that order and denounced the impact Trump’s contraceptive repeal would have on women who have come to rely on the mandate for affordable family planning. Judge Wendy Beetlestone wrote in her ruling that it’s hard to picture a mandate which “intrudes more into the lives of women” than Trump’s.
“A simple hypothetical illustrates the insidious effect” of Trump’s order, said Judge Beetlestone. “It would allow an employer with a sincerely held moral conviction that women do not have a place in the workplace to simply stop providing contraceptive coverage.” In other words, an employer could use the option to refuse contraceptive coverage as a way to discriminate against women, regardless of whether or not the employer actually has a moral issue with birth control.
That’s a worst-case scenario, in addition to the financial impact Trump’s order would make on thousands upon thousands of women. By some counts, 55 million women have benefitted from the ACA birth control mandate and saved an estimated $1 billion. That includes women who use birth control for family planning, but also those who use hormonal contraceptives to manage a variety of health conditions, such as PCOS, PMDD, endometriosis, and others.
Beetlestone hasn’t had the last word yet, however. Her ruling is for now only a preliminary injunction based on a lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro to the Federal District Court in Philadelphia. It will take further legal proceedings to restore women’s free access to birth control, which Trump’s order immediately revoked. It’s also uncertain what place free birth control might have in an uncertain healthcare landscape, given that the Republican tax bill is likely to whittle away at Obamacare, Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP.
(Via The New York Times)