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Supreme Court to Hear Case on Future of Birth Control Coverage

Trump administration defending rules that would enable employers and universities to deny birth control coverage based on their personal beliefs.

Case puts birth control coverage at risk for more than 62 million people.

WASHINGTON - Today, just days before the 60th anniversary of the birth control pill, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Trump v. Pennsylvania and consider two dangerous Trump administration rules that would allow an employer or university to deny birth control coverage because of their personal objections. This case could have far-reaching implications for the future of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) birth control benefit, which expanded contraceptive coverage with no out-of-pocket costs for more than 62 million women, including 17 million Latinas and 15 million Black women.  

Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“It’s deeply concerning that in the middle of a public health crisis, the Trump administration is continuing to defend a policy that threatens access to birth control for millions of women. This shouldn’t be up for debate — we are just days away from the 60th anniversary of FDA approval of the birth control pill, a critical part of the range of birth control that nearly nine in 10 women use in their lifetimes. This case highlights the lengths the administration will go to attack people’s fundamental right to control their own bodies, at a time when we should be coming together to support one another. Planned Parenthood Action Fund cannot and will not stand by as the administration continues to put access to reproductive health care at risk in this country.” 

Granting employers and universities the right to take away coverage for essential and time-sensitive medication like birth control will complicate health care needs, while people are already facing health crises due to the global pandemic. It will also add to the economic hardships many face in these uncertain times — access to birth control is responsible for one-third of women’s wage gains relative to men’s since the 1960’s. This is especially true for women of color who have always faced economic disparities and, therefore, limited access to health care. People of color make up the majority of low-wage earners economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and women of color are more likely to hold jobs deemed “essential” than any other demographic.

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The data show that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe women should have birth control coverage, regardless of their employer’s personal objections, putting the administration in direct opposition with the public.

These birth control rules are just the latest attempt by the administration to push policies that attack reproductive health care and access including abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, gagging Title X health providers and forcing Planned Parenthood health centers out of the program, and continued support of litigation to strike the ACA, even during a public health crisis. Another regulation by this administration would embolden health care workers to refuse to provide health services that they personally find objectionable, like transgender care, abortion, sterilization, and AIDS treatment. That rule is also currently blocked in court.

While this case is about the ACA’s birth control benefit specifically, if the administration succeeds in implementing its broader agenda to allow numerous entities to deny access to care and coverage, it will have far reaching implications impacting women, families, LGBT people, and more. The administration is simultaneously pushing policies that would allow institutions and individuals to discriminate against people and deny access to coverage and care based on their personal beliefs in many other situations. Schools and employers could argue they should be able to decline to cover health care services they find objectionable — perhaps including things like hormone therapy for transgender people, blood transfusions, or critical vaccines. They may even argue they should not have to provide health coverage at all.  

The Supreme Court also recently heard arguments in June Medical Services v. Russo, a case that could have serious consequences for abortion access in the U.S. In 2020, access to all sexual and reproductive health care is at risk. 

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Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is many things to many people. We are a trusted health care provider, an informed educator, a passionate advocate, and a global partner helping similar organizations around the world. Planned Parenthood delivers vital health care services, sex education, and sexual health information to millions of women, men, and young people.

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