New rules issued by the United States Department of Health and Human Services today ended an Obama-era mandate that prevented employers from withholding birth control coverage for religious reasons. Officials with nonprofits, private firms, and publicly traded companies only need to have a "sincerely held religious or moral objection" to prevent their employees from having control over their health care, CNN reports.
As of 2017, about 62.4 million women had their birth control covered by their insurance plans thanks to the Affordable Care Act, according to data collected by the National Women's Law Center. In Washington State, this new rule would remove birth control coverage for nearly 4 million women.
"[Health and Human Services] leaders under the current administration are focused on turning back the clock on women's health," Dr. Haywood L. Brown, president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said in a statement. "Reducing access to contraceptive coverage threatens to reverse the tremendous progress our nation has made in recent years in lowering the unintended pregnancy rate."
Brown said that weakening contraception coverage could also take a toll on maternal mortality, community health and economic stability of women and families.
The Trump administration is taking away "a fundamental right—to be able to decide whether and when you want to have children," a representative for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands said.
"Birth control is not controversial—it’s basic health care the vast majority of women will use in the course of their lifetime," they said.