As the dystopian novel of the Donald Trump administration barrels on, irony layers upon itself as the president and his team move to roll back federal requirements issued by former President Barack Obama mandating insurance plans to cover birth control for most major employees.
Trump moved for the roll back on the premise of religious freedom. And it was a nod to his many supporters enticed by the promise of allowing people of faith to no longer be “targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.” Were they ever?
This mandate stands as a contradiction to another social issue amongst conservative politicians – abortions.
Research showed that abortion numbers reached an all-time low in 2014, with around 1.5 percent of women undergoing the procedure. With the number of abortions going down and the number of yearly births staying around the same, it could be assumed that increased accessibility to birth control is responsible for the historically low public health statistic.
So if conservatives are against abortion on the basis of religion, how could they possibly use the same moral loyalty to block the very thing that could be helping abortion rates reach the lowest they have been since 1973?
By conservatives moving to make certain types of abortion illegal – the House just approved a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy – but not allowing the alternative of contraceptives, they are making a statement toward women all over the country: that it is our moral obligation to carry our children to full term, no matter how equipped we may feel we are to take care of them.
It’s here that we reach another contradiction. In May, Trump released a national budget detailing slashed government assistance programs that would impact low-income households.
So let’s get this straight – by making moves that appeal to his right-wing Christian supporters, Trump blocks access to birth control. The decreased accessibility to affordable contraceptives could lead to unplanned pregnancies that may not be terminated due to abortion laws, and eventually access to government assistance will become scarce due to proposed budget cuts.
If the hypocrisy and contradiction in this statement is troubling, it should be.
But that’s only one issue surrounding the movement of the Trump administration to block access to affordable birth control.
Women rely on birth control for far more than preventing pregnancy. Contraceptives help those who suffer from extreme premenstrual cramps, as well as those affected by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
PCOS is a condition in nearly 10 percent of women in which ovulation does not regularly occur, causing symptoms such as irregular menstrual cycles, increased levels of androgens, hair growth and weight gain. Birth control is often a form of treatment that helps regulate periods or control androgen levels.
Additionally, contraceptives are used to treat endometriosis, a disease that causes tissue that normally grows within the uterus to grow outside of it and onto the ovaries or the fallopian tubes. Birth control is used to treat endometriosis as a hormone treatment that helps regulate pain and make periods lighter and shorter.
These are only a few cases in which birth control is used for reasons other than to prevent pregnancy, but prove that by making access more difficult to attain, it turns into a public health issue.
If you have a moral issue with abortions, don’t get one. If it is against your religion to use contraceptives, don’t use them. It does not go against your moral or religious freedom if your next-door neighbor or classmate uses birth control or decides to have an abortion.
There is no room for government mandates when it comes to the blockage of reproductive rights.
Women should have the opportunity to front-seat their reproductive health and protect themselves from pregnancy or take agency of their bodies in the event of an unexpected pregnancy without fear of government agencies making decisions about the choices they make with their health and lives in general.