On October 6th, the GOP rolled back the Obama-era mandate that required employers to include birth control in their health care plans. Effective immediately, any employer that is morally or religiously opposed to birth control has the right to remove birth control from its health care plan.
Dr. Anuj Khattar, Fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health, spoke to us about the dangers of taking away this key health care component — and how it could set a dangerous precedent for future legislation.
Khattar emphasizes that unplanned pregnancies can never be taken lightly. “There are health risks associated with unplanned pregnancies,” he says, and notes that the abortion rate has reached an all-time low thanks to accessible contraception. Furthermore, access to contraception is beneficial to everyone — not just women.
Although women are 100% entitled to use birth control solely to avoid unwanted pregnancies, the fact is that girls and women of all ages use birth control to treat a variety of medical conditions.
Khattar also notes that birth control is crucial for women who are in chemotherapy to treat cancer; becoming pregnant while undergoing chemo can cause damage to a fetus.
Khattar says the mandate treats corporations as individual people, and it’s a concerning step in the wrong direction.
Passing legislation based on moral or religious views is a slippery slope — and the birth control rollback sets a disturbing and dangerous precedent. Based on who’s in control of the government at any given time, other life-saving medical treatments could be removed from health care plans.
The GOP’s efforts to limit access to birth control are a vicious attack on women’s health care and a way to shame women for being sexually active.
Even if we don’t currently rely on birth control for contraception or a medical condition, this mandate is a devastating blow to women’s rights to their own bodies.