Expanding Religious Exemptions Would Harm Access to Birth Control and Undermine Gender Equity
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 9, 2020
(ATLANTA, GA – April 9, 2020) – On Tuesday, SisterLove, Inc., National Women’s Law Center, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, National Asian and Pacific Islander Women along with the support of 50 organizations, filed an amicus brief warning that religious and moral exemptions to covering essential preventive contraceptive methods and related education, counseling, and services stand to undermine the autonomy of women and people who can get pregnant to decide if, when, and how they want to experience a pregnancy. We want to make sure the Court fully understands the devastating harm the rules would have on real people around the country, especially those facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination.
Trump v. Pennsylvania (consolidated with Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania) considers a challenge to the Administration’s rule that expands religious and moral exemptions to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA). The ACA currently requires that all employer based health insurance cover the full cost of contraceptive care, with limited exceptions. This new rule would allow employers and other entities that object to birth control the right to strip away coverage without ensuring alternative arrangements for access. The case was scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court on April 29, 2020 but has since been postponed.
The brief illustrates exemptions from the mandate would cause harm and increased barriers to the communities we serve, with a disproportionate impact on Black women, women of color, trans and non-binary people, and young people. We specifically sought to highlight how the increased barriers care will jeopardize health by increasing unintended pregnancies and aggravating medical conditions; undermine individuals’ autonomy and control over their lives; and threaten the economic security and equality of women and all who can become pregnant.
Our own community has faced incredible hardships from the inability to attain birth control. We have heard many stories like Brianna’s. She was taking birth control for years and was completely covered under her mother’s insurance that was provided by her job at a Catholic School. However when the new rule came into effect, the school chose to claim a religious exemption and her birth control was no longer covered. With little warning, Brianna was told her birth control would now cost $75 a month, a price she could not afford. She relied on birth control not only for control over her reproductive health, but also to manage her acne and stabilize her mood. The reason she takes birth control should not justify its use but her story highlights the various reasons why people rely on birth control. While Brianna’s story is unique, we know she is not alone. We want to hear from you! Share your birth control experience with us.
“All people deserve access to the prevention and contraception methods of their choosing. The Trump Administration’s relentless quest to diminish the autonomy of people to make decisions surrounding their reproductive health is reprehensible” remarked Sequoia Ayala, Esq., MA, Director of Policy and Advocacy at SisterLove. Access to safe, legal, and affordable contraception remains essential to historically disenfranchised communities that have been denied the health care they need. To achieve reproductive justice, we must continue to organize and defend against policies that wish to withhold our power and right to self-determination.
We want to extend a heartfelt appreciation to our partners and co-counsel National Women’s Law Center, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, National Asian and Pacific Islander Women, and law firm Lowenstein Sandler.
SisterLove, Inc., is the oldest women-centered HIV and sexual & reproductive health organization in the Southeastern United States. It was founded in 1989 to address HIV-related education, prevention and research, and to support the rights of reproductive justice for all women and girls. SisterLove’s mission is to eradicate the impact of HIV and other sexual and reproductive oppressions on all women, their families, and their communities in the US and globally. SisterLove, Inc. is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia with a satellite office in Johannesburg, South Africa.