by Carolyn J. Jacobson, Director, Cervical Cancer Prevention Works, Coalition of Labor Union Women, firstname.lastname@example.org and Carol S. Rosenblatt, Executive Director, Coalition of Labor Union Women, email@example.com
A few weeks ago we celebrated President Obama’s decision to implement a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires health plans to cover preventive services including contraceptives without copayments or deductibles. This is a significant victory and can save women $600 or more a year on contraceptives alone — a great help at a time of economic hardship for so many.
Immediately the backlash started: The Conference of Catholic Bishops want to deny workers in Catholic hospitals, social service agencies, etc. the right to birth control devices and contraceptives that they are entitled to under this law. Currently there is a religious exemption that applies primarily to houses of worship but they want this exemption expanded and are pressuring the Obama administration to make the change.
Polls released this week indicate that a majority of Catholics believe that employers should provide health care plans that cover contraception.
No one is demanding that women who work for Catholic institutions like a hospital be required to consume birth control pills. They should be able to make that decision for themselves without the interference of an employer or denied that right based on where they work.
Furthermore, no labor union would tolerate an employer dictating what can be bargained about. A union and the workers they represent should make that decision for the good of the workers. It would not be tolerated for any other issue. Why is it okay when it comes to this? Are women so expendable?
CLUW President Karen See notes, “Our opponents are trying to equate contraception with abortion, which it is not! CLUW has a long-standing position on supporting the basic health needs of women; reproductive health is no exception.”
CLUW is proud of our support for contraceptive equity that dates back to 1997 and for creating our Contraceptive Equity Project in 2001. We recognized the discrimination in many health plans — denying contraceptives at the same time that 90% of plans covered Viagra — and we vowed to change that.
Senate Republican leaders on Tuesday committed to fight the new contraceptive rules if the administration does not make changes and are accusing President Obama of being hostile to religious freedom. Last month, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced a bill that would block the rules from taking effect.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said she is ready to fight back against Senate Republicans’ legislation. “My Republican friends are attempting to turn back the clock on birth control,” she said.
In her Daily Beast column, Michelle Goldberg sums it up perfectly:
And make no mistake: health plans that exclude services used only by women constitute a form of discrimination. That’s why in 2000, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that employers that cover prescription drugs but do not cover contraception are in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
CLUW needs its eActivists to do two actions:
SIGN THE WHITE HOUSE PETITION: Stand Strong in Support of New No-Cost Birth Control Policy. It’s up to pro-choice Americans to speak up for birth-control coverage. Sign your name to let the administration know that you are with them 100 percent.
TELL THE SENATE THAT YOU OPPOSE S.2043. Go to the CLUW homepage and fill out the simple box provided.
Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.