Birth control rollback presents a danger for women rights and religious freedom
In a recent study by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, 190 governments were analyzed to determine gender equality in legislatiors. Unsurprisingly, the United States ranked in the lower half of the spectrum at 105th.
From incumbency issues to lack of candidates, the slow-paced integration of women into American politics is particularly noticed when laws regarding women are passed—laws that involve more than half of the country’s population but fail to consult those intended to affect.
During the Obama administration, health care reforms gave more than 55 million women access to insurance-covered birth control. But in a country where women are seldom consulted regarding laws over their bodies and health, regression is an ever-present danger, even more so when religious fanaticism and sexist views are the ruling ideals in the legislative body.
Hence, it came as no surprise that the Trump administration rolled back birth control mandates issued under the Affordable Care Act to fulfill his promise of “people of faith not being targeted anymore.” At the same time, the President was trying his best to ban Muslims from entering the country. The irony is impossible to miss.
As a result, religious organizations and religious employers can decide on whether to keep covering birth control or not. Although under Supreme Court rulings the rollback on health care can be deemed constitutional, both the ban and the health care reforms that the Trump administration intend to pursue are an affront to the values under which the United States was built.
The First Amendment, that under which this country was built, prohibits the government from actively trying to impose religion, but the constitution is entirely disregarded by the majority of Congress and the White House unless it revolves around guns, it seems. Allowing employers to decide whether they want to cover birth control or not on religious grounds is astonishingly imposing to employees that might not have the same beliefs, despite what the Supreme Court or the president might say.
It is also noteworthy that birth control is not only used for the purposes implied by its name. Women suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, endometriosis, lack of periods and even cramps use birth control as medicine for their conditions. If a woman diagnosed with any of these disorders is employed by a religious institution or a religious company, she will now have to pay for birth control herself or pray the pain away.
Even if birth control is used for the purpose for which it was created, the government should leave women’s bodies alone.
Choice is the basis of freedom, and the land of the free is seriously failing women. The fact that we still have to protest abuses toward women shows how fragile progress is and the importance of public involvement to maintain a healthy democracy where freedom and equality reign.
One would think that 45 years after Roe v. Wade, women’s rights would have only gotten better, but, apparently, it takes 273 Republican men in Congress and a sexist president to undo the progress made through years of fighting.
Ultimately, the reversal of progressive and inclusive laws under the current administration comes as no shock, but the willingness to bend the very foundational ideals of the country to disturb the rights of its people in the name of religion is something that basic decency should not allow.
Stephanie Sanchez is a junior journalism, classics, and political science major from Quito, Ecuador.
Read the other angle here.