Washington – To Connecticut’s Democratic lawmakers, President Donald Trump’s decision to roll back the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that businesses include birth control benefits in health care policies covering their workers amounted to fighting words.
“I’m sick and tired of Republicans trying to take away women’s health care,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. “It’s 2017 — women should be able to get birth control if they want it, no matter where they work. President Trump just allowed employers to push their political agenda on their female employees.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn, said “gutting this mandate is a disgraceful denial of hard evidence that it has saved billions of dollars, reduced unintended pregnancies, and improved the health of nearly 62 million women nationwide.”
“This backwards move is the latest in a long list of unconscionable steps taken by an administration apparently unconcerned with the financial, physical, and psychological well-being of millions of American women and their families,” he said.
Murphy and Blumenthal represent a state that gave the nation the landmark Supreme Court case Griswold v. Connecticut.
In 1954, Estelle Griswold was the executive director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, a state which at that time forbade women from purchasing any kind of birth control. Griswold opened a birth control clinic in New Haven and was arrested.
She took her case to the Supreme Court and won. The justices not only barred states from making contraceptives illegal, but established a right to privacy.
Trump has not outlawed contraception, but he ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to change the Affordable Care mandate that requires birth control be covered without co-pay as a preventive service.
The new rules would let a broad range of employers — including nonprofits, private firms and publicly traded companies – to stop offering contraceptives through their health insurance plans if they have a “sincerely held religious or moral objection,” according to a senior DHS official on a call with reporters on Friday.
Murphy said changing the mandate could impact more than 62 million American women, including over 756,000 women in Connecticut, who now have access to fully covered preventive care — including birth control, cancer screenings, and well-woman exams — without copays or other out-of-pocket expense.
However, there’s no indication of how many Connecticut employers would drop birth control coverage from their health plans.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, joined other Democrats in condemning the move.
“Birth control is essential for women to control their lives and maintain their health,” she said in a statement. “The Affordable Care Act requires coverage for contraception as a preventative care benefit for women. The Trump administration would now allow employers to impose their beliefs regarding family planning on women — decisions that should be left to each woman and her family — by denying no-copay birth control to women and forcing them to pay the full cost for contraception out of pocket.”