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COLUMN: Rolling back birth control coverage is hypocritical



Sixty-two percent of American women between the ages of 15 to 44 are on some type of birth control, whether on a pill or through sterilization

This statistic comes from a 2012 survey from the Department of Health and Human Services, and the number was expected to increase in the coming years. 

For the most part, the increase of birth control usage since the 1960s has led to a decreasing number of unintended pregnancies. Birth control works for millions of women, and it should be funded by insurance companies. 

President Trump’s decision to allow more employers to opt out of providing birth control to their workers is hypocritical. For a government that has repeatedly refused to support abortion rights, preventing easy access to birth control is leaving women with very few options. 

On Oct. 6, the Trump administration decided to expand the number of employers and insurers that can legally exempt themselves from offering contraception based on religious beliefs. There is no longer a requirement that employers must include coverage or birth control under their plans. 

This bill could affect 55 million women who were previously able to access birth control through rules set forth by former President Obama.  

Part of the rationale behind this decision was to curb “risky sexual behavior” in teens

This action was largely to appease the religious right. And it worked. 

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a family values organization, praised Trump for “demonstrating his commitment to undoing anti-faith policies of the previous administration and restoring true religious freedom.” 

The hypocrisy in the decision is astounding. 

Conservatives routinely vote to ban abortion or put restrictions on it in both the federal and state legislatures. In Oklahoma, the courts recently overturned a law to prevent women accessing off-label pills for medication often used as medical abortion pills. 

And on the national level, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, proposed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which stipulates that abortion should be criminalized after week 20 because the fetuses can feel pain

This is a law that largely affects teenage girls, as their menstrual cycles have not become regular yet. It also ignores the fact that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have repeatedly stated that fetuses cannot feel pain at 20 weeks.

It’s insulting that after making abortions almost impossible to receive, the federal government has made it harder to prevent unwanted pregnancies through safe access to birth control because it might promote sex for teenagers. 

Teenagers are going to have sex. That’s a fact. The best way for them to have sex is safely and with contraception available to prevent pregnancy. 

My frustration with this bill is not just that it prevents people from getting valuable health care, but that it disregards one of the pillars of the pro-life movement: there should be fewer abortions. 

Preventing people from accessing the information and treatment that could prevent them from needing abortions in the first place is integral to eradicating their necessity. 

Sex education and birth control can lower the rate of abortions. If we stopped treating them like the enemy, maybe they could do their jobs. 

npatwari@indiana.edu

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