Women burdened by Trump’s repeal of birth control insurance

Sadhana Sarma, Design Editor

Birth control — a collection of methods that women use simply to control hormones for more bearable menstrual cycles or to have a sense of security in regard to unplanned pregnancies—has been discredited by the Trump administration in an attempt to validate its recent mandate against previous health care policies. On Oct. 6, Trump undid years of progress made under the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) by rolling back a law that had required employers to provide their employees with birth control coverage without co-payments. In doing so, Trump not only turned a blind eye to the needs of women throughout the country, but also demonstrated his underlying agenda to undermine the ACA.

“Birth control is so important in terms of giving people a choice,” said junior Selena Jeong. “I think the fact that there used to be a law that said employers had to give birth control because it should be a human right.”

The ACA, also known as Obamacare, was established on March 23, 2010 with three main goals. These included making affordable health insurance available to more Americans, expanding the Medicaid program to cover all adults with income below 138 percent of the federal poverty level and supporting new methods of medical care delivery to lower the cost of healthcare overall. One key component of the act was a mandate that required employers to provide birth control to their employees. In constructing the act, the Obama administration took precautions to prevent backlash from any religiously affiliated institutions that might object to supplying birth control by exempting institutions like churches from abiding by the mandate. This exemption, however, was not enough for Trump, who repealed the mandate, causing controversy across the nation.  

“[The debate surrounding the ACA] is a conflict between prioritizing values — whether you are going to value the right to privacy versus the right to practice religious faith and interpretations thereof,” said social studies department lead, Nate Martell. “I assume this goes back to protests against the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, where businesses felt it was infringing on their rights.”

Trump’s reversal of the policies outlined in the ACA affects women throughout the country for more reasons than one. A common misconception about birth control is that it is a pill used solely to prevent pregnancies. Though this is an important benefit, birth control has many more uses applicable to all women, even those not engaging in sexual activity, such as controlling hormones to lessen the symptoms of menstrual cycles. Birth control is not just a pill, but rather a broad genre of methods and medicines including prescribed pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and condoms that help women lead more comfortable and healthy lives.

The various types of birth control have not only proven themselves to be beneficial but also necessary for many women, such as those with certain health conditions. For example, taking birth control medicine allows women with endometriosis, a disorder which causes tissue to grow outside the uterus instead of inside, to experience alleviated symptoms.

By cutting off birth control access from people who cannot afford it, Trump is not only offending women with his statement that they cannot be trusted to take the medicine without being tempted to engage in “risky sexual behavior,” but he is also harming the health of those that rely on it. Many women need the help of programs such as Medicaid in order to have access to birth control so its removal by the new mandate is detrimental.

“I know a lot of my friends were on Medicaid because their parents got laid off from work, which is not their fault,” said health clerk and athletic trainer, Megan Gwozdecke. “Now women have to pay a lot for birth control. It can start at $10, but it gets much more expensive than that. Trump needs to start caring about people from all classes; his actions are taking away from the people who really do need it.”

The Trump administration has rolled out its mandate under the guise that providing access to birth control is immoral and violates the religious beliefs of many. It claims to be catering to the needs of religious groups who are not willing to follow ACA’s policies. As the Obama administration already took precautions to cater to religious beliefs, however, the removal of birth control requirements for employers is excessive and unnecessary. It is also important to note that while repealing ACA satisfies those with certain religious beliefs and desires, doing so also risks the health of many.  

“I don’t agree with Trump’s validation that he’s accommodating people with religious affiliations because religion shouldn’t count in government,” said junior Selena Jeong. “Birth control doesn’t go with religion. It really goes with people’s rights. I think the fact that there used to be a law that said employers had to give birth control shows it should be a human right.”

The passing of the mandate, with its inhumane policies, sparks greater conversation about whether Trump has a deeper agenda against Obama’s presidency and against people from lower classes.

“Trump needs to start caring about people from all classes,” said Gwozdecke. “It seems he cares more about people who are wealthy and I do not think that is fair because everybody should be looked at as a whole. His actions are taking away from the people who really do need it.”

Birth control’s variety of applications renders it useful for a majority of women. As such, it should be made accessible to all, not just those who can afford it out of their own pocket. In a world where the country’s President does not understand the practicality of such a necessary resource as birth control, one can only hope that his attacks on birth control and the ACA, based on falsehoods, will be recognized as just that — false.