The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it has finalized the rollback of an Obama-era rule mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that required employers to provide contraception coverage for their employees, regardless of whether it conflicts with their moral or religious beliefs.
The new rules, set to take place in about 60 days, will allow employers that object to the use of birth control to stop paying for their workers’ contraception. The change will affect between 6,400 and 127,000 women, according to a fact sheet released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The National Women’s Law Center, however, estimates the rule threatens contraception for more than 55 million cisgender women and an unknown number of transgender and non binary people.
While the administration announced it was planning on rolling back the Obama-era rule last year and issued interim final rules last October, as ThinkProgress’ Amanda Gomez has previously reported, this rule change has been anticipated by reproductive rights groups since the beginning of the Trump presidency.
“[After] President Trump won the election last November, Planned Parenthood saw a 900 percent increase in demand for long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). Many anticipated something like this would happen, and so they switched from daily birth control pills to intrauterine devices (IUD), which can last anywhere between three to ten years. For many women and gender minorities, birth control isn’t just to control when they get pregnant.”
“What’s at stake here with these rules really is women’s equality, in the sense of access to contraception [and] control of our reproductive capacity as has been recognized by the Supreme Court as essential to our chances to succeed or be equal in society,” Louise Melling, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said last year when the interim final rules were released.
Limiting reproductive rights and access to safe, legal abortions was at the core of candidate Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign for president. At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, the president was asked how he planned to keep that campaign promise and “push forward” with his pro-life agenda. He responded, rather ominously, that he has a secret solution to solve the abortion debate.
“I won’t be able to explain that to you,” Trump said. “Because it is an issue that is a very divisive, polarizing issue. But there is a solution, I think that I have that solution. And nobody else does.”