Trump’s recent administration move to roll back on birth control access might bring more harm than benefit.

The administration is said to allow employers and insurers to decline providing birth control if it violates their "religious beliefs" or "moral convictions". However, Maggie Fox reported on NBC News that the new rule might lead to unwanted consequences, where more women would opt for abortion, instead.

Understanding that it is impossible to satisfy all religious objections on the contraceptive coverage mandate, Trump administrative believed that “it is necessary and appropriate to provide the expanded exemptions.”

“Application of the mandate to entities with sincerely held religious objections to it does not serve a compelling governmental interest,” it says.

Obamacare vs. Trump administration

Previously under the Obamacare regulation, employers are required to provide free birth control for their employees as part of their health insurance plans. The regulation also included a provision that allowed religious institution to waive birth control coverage for their employees.

Obamacare’s regulation benefited more than 55 million women and saved women an estimated USD1.4 billion on birth control alone in 2013. A 2012 study from Washington University of more than 9,000 women found that when women got no-cost birth control, the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions fell by 62% – 78%.

Now, with the new Trump administration, hundreds of thousands of women could lose birth control benefits they now receive at no cost under the Affordable Care Act.

However, according to Health and Human Services officials the new rule would have no impact on “99.9% of women” in the US. The statistic was made based on 165 million women in America, including those who are not in their child-bearing years.

According to Health and Human Services, at most, 120 thousand women would be affected; mainly those who work at the 200 organisations that have been involved in about 50 lawsuits over birth control coverage.

The Affordable Care Act or Obamacare enabled American women to have access to free birth control pills through employment and insurance. Photo credit: BBC
The Affordable Care Act or Obamacare enabled American women to have access to free birth control pills through employment and insurance. Photo credit: BBC

Birth control pills’ less obvious benefits

Despite the numbers provided by Health and Human Services, Alina Salganicoff, director of women’s health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit that focuses on health policy research and communications said there is no way to know how many women will be affected as birth control method is used for more than just pregnancy prevention. Apart from the obvious reason, birth control is also used in the treatment of hormonal imbalance and endometriosis.

Diedra Penner, 33, from Bellingham, Washington state, told the BBC in a news article that she uses birth control to treat her polycystic ovarian syndrome and the new administration might put her at risk.

"Without the birth control mandate, I don't know how much the treatment would cost," she said.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists added that Trump’s administration is a threat to women’s health and will have a negative impact on their families.

“Contraception is a medical necessity for women during approximately 30 years of their lives. It improves the lives of women, children and families as well as communities overall,” said Haywood Brown, the president of The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Religious rights vs. women’s rights

Trump’s administration however insists that the mandate is a matter of religious freedom.

"The constitutional protection of religious beliefs and the right to exercise those beliefs have served this country well, have made us one of the most tolerant countries in the world, and have also helped make us the freeist and most generous," Sessions said in a statement. "President Trump promised that this administration would 'lead by example on religious liberty,' and he is delivering on that promise."

Trump’s new administrative is believed to allow rights to religious freedom. Photo credit: USA Today
Trump’s new administrative is believed to allow rights to religious freedom. Photo credit: USA Today

The new mandate effective immediately however made no mention about the health effect circulating the matter.

"No American should be forced to violate his or her own conscience in order to abide by the laws and regulations governing our health care system," expressed HHS spokeswoman, Caitlin Oakley.

Dr David Eisenberg, associate professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Washington University asked a different question. “What about the religious freedom of women who want not to have a child until they are ready or the religious freedom of men who want to practice responsible behaviour?"

With Trump’s new birth control mandate and his recently banning of abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, it appears that Trump’s administration would leave little choice for women to make choices about their own body. MIMS

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