Birth control is one of those battles women in America thought they had won. We thought there was widespread agreement that ensuring women have the ability to prevent unwanted pregnancies was in the best interest of the country, families, women and children.
And there is widespread agreement! Surveys show 70 percent of Americans believe insurance companies should cover birth control as basic health care – as required under the Affordable Care Act.
But not all employers have to cover contraception under the ACA. The Obama administration acquiesced to pressure and agreed to exempt churches, religious organizations, and religiously affiliated hospitals, universities and other organizations from the provision.
That seems to have opened the floodgates on demands for religious exemptions.
Legislators in North Carolina considered a bill that would have given employers the option not to provide coverage for birth control in their insurance plans if such coverage is “contrary to the employer’s religious tenets.” After some debate, that language was removed from House Bill 730 (which still includes a lot of provisions that would severely restrict women’s access to reproductive care).
Lawmakers in Missouri passed a law allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception, and a federal court struck it down. But that hasn’t stopped other states, like Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Michigan from trying. They all argue that the issue is not birth control but the religious freedom of employers.
So now it may be up to the courts to decide whether you can have access to the free contraception promised in the Affordable Care Act.