A Week of Scary Politics for Women’s Reproductive Rights
By Beth E. Rivin, M.D., M.P.H.
We are in for a scary ride, folks. Trump’s nominations for cabinet positions make a reproductive rights advocate, like me, cringe. And so, when Representative Tom Price of Georgia was nominated by President-Elect Trump to be Secretary of Health and Human Services this week, I felt sick and threatened. Vice-President-Elect Mike Pence introduced him as, “someone who literally, for the last half a dozen years, has been in the forefront of efforts…… to repeal Obamacare…..The New York Times Editorial Board called Trump’s nomination of Tom Price, “A Radical Choice for Health Secretary”. Like Mike Pence, Rep. Tom Price is strongly against women’s right to decide for themselves when and if to be pregnant.
Women’s improved access to contraception under Obamacare (Affordable Care Act or ACA) is severely threatened. One of the highlights of Obamacare is the mandate for health plans to cover contraception at affordable prices. Although there were some exceptions to contraception coverage, i.e., religious institutions, more and more women have used this feature to get contraception. Thanks to the ACA, at least 67% of insured women on the pill were projected to be paying $0 for it in 2014 (up from only 15% in 2012). For more information about this, visit: http://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-birth-control/.
Trump’s nomination more clearly defines our future battle lines. Tom Price is a staunch advocate of repealing Obamacare, which would roll back gains made in access to contraception under the ACA. The legislation he most recently introduced in 2015 tells the story. If he can gut the program and leave millions without healthcare, including access to contraception, he will.
Unfortunately, women do not have the right to reproductive health in the U.S. We are not protected by the international human rights treaty CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women). Obamacare was a step in the right direction to improve access to family planning, especially for poor women, non-urban populations, adolescents and other marginalized groups.
We are in scary times, but we can fight back. We must be vigilant, organize and speak up with a unified voice – women’s right to family planning is at stake. If Obamacare is repealed and replaced, it will put millions of women and girls at risk. Tell Trump what you like and don’t like about Obamacare so we may be able to influence the final outcome of an effort to take away better healthcare and better access to contraception—a woman’s right.