The Donald Trump administration’s draft proposal to reverse the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers and health plans cover most contraceptive services at no cost is wrong for working women and families. The draft as written allows any employer—whether a church, a non-profit related to a church, or a for-profit corporation—that has any moral or religious objection to choose not to cover these contraceptive services. It also exempts any insurance company with a moral or religious objection from covering contraceptive services.
The AFL-CIO has long been committed to ensuring that women have the right to quality health care, including equal access to contraception, and the ability to exercise that right regardless of where they work. When the U.S. Supreme Court undermined that right in its 2014 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the AFL-CIO objected to the expansion of employers’ ability to restrict working women’s rights to contraceptive services and the unprecedented extension of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Trump administration now relies on that same act to expand dramatically what kind of objections to providing contraceptive services may be made and which entities may raise them. And the administration’s expansive reading of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act threatens the LGBTQ community as well, in light of state and federal laws proposing religious exemptions from marriage equality and anti-discrimination laws.
The National Women’s Law Center, the National Partnership for Women & Families and the ACLU have condemned the proposal because it threatens the health and economic security of working people. The AFL-CIO is joining with them and others to stop this proposed change before it can do real harm.
The rights of working people to contraceptive equity and health care are protected by federal anti-discrimination laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Working people who come together in union to negotiate fair pay and fair treatment on the job also have created contractual rights to contraceptive coverage and against workplace discrimination. The administration’s proposal ignores those rights, and that it cannot do.
The draft proposal is part of a larger assault on civil and human rights. The AFL-CIO recently joined the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and more than 100 other organizations in signing a letter calling for an end to this assault.