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Birth Control: A Game Changer for Women

Sarah Lipton-Lubet,
ACLU Washington Legislative Office
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April 9, 2013

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the Obama administration’s contraceptive coverage rule is a breakthrough for women’s health, ensuring that millions of women will have access to affordable, effective contraception. But anti-family planning forces are waging an all-out campaign to prevent women from getting affordable access to this basic health care. They’re claiming that your boss should be able to control your health care decisions.

We can’t let them succeed. That’s why the ACLU yesterday urged the Department of Health and Human Services to continue to stand by its decision that contraception is basic health care and must be available in health insurance plans. And although we don’t believe that the administration needed to create special rules for non-profit institutions that “hold themselves out as religious,” we urged the administration to make sure it implements this plan in a way that ensures that women working at those institutions receive seamless coverage for contraception, and suggested ways to improve it.

We know that contraception is a game changer for women. Contraception helps us protect our health and plan our families. It allows us to pursue education and participate in the workforce. That’s why virtually all sexually active women have used contraception at some point.

Despite the fact that this rule is a major advance for women’s health and equality, some have claimed that this decision violates their religious freedom. It doesn’t. What those groups really want is to use religion to discriminate and deny women access to comprehensive health care.

The government should not permit employers to impose religious beliefs on employees who do not share them. At its core, religious freedom means that we are all free to make personal decisions such as whether and when to use birth control based on our own beliefs and according to what is best for our health and the well-being of our families.

Opponents of the law have made it clear that they won’t rest until no insurance plan, whatever the source, is required to cover contraception, but we’re proud to join the more than 350,000 Americans who are standing up in support of the administration’s efforts to ensure women have access to affordable, effective birth control.

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