Why Are They Attacking Birth Control 50 Years Later?
Last month, we took a look at the attacks on women’s health in the states. From abortion restrictions to mandatory ultrasounds to so-called “personhood” measures, opponents of women’s health have introduced more than 2,000 reproductive health provisions since 2010 in legislatures across the country, the vast majority of which are designed to undermine women’s health. But this month, we’re focusing on one of these issues in particular: birth control.
It was 47 years ago today when the Supreme Court decided that states didn’t have the right to ban the use of birth control by married couples. The decision in this 1965 landmark case — Griswold v. Connecticut — transformed women’s lives, establishing that a woman’s reproductive decisions were protected by the constitution. But for some reason, nearly 50 years later, some politicians actually think government SHOULD have a role in saying who can and can’t use birth control.
The stats by now are well-known: 99 percent of sexually active women use birth control at some point in their lives, and fifty-eight percent of women using birth control use it for reasons beyond family planning. Yet politicians are still working overtime to restrict access for women. Here’s a quick recap of the lowlights from the states:
**In May, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a law that will allow pharmacists, physicians and other medical providers to refuse to provide birth control and medical referrals to women. Kansas isn’t the only state which allows health care professionals, institutions, or pharmacists to refuse to provide reproductive health services without facing legal or professional consequences.
**Last month, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill that repeals the state’s existing birth control equity law (originally a Republican-sponsored proposal that received bipartisan support) that was signed into law by Republican (and Catholic) then Governor Jane Hull. The bill not only allows employers to discriminate against employees who use birth control — it broadens an exemption that already exists as a way to chip away at women’s access to basic preventive care.
**Not to be outdone by Kansas and Arizona, Missouri lawmakers decided to pass a bill on the last day of session that attempts to block the federal Affordable Care Act benefit that expands coverage of birth control with no co-pay to millions of women across the country. While the governor has not yet signed or vetoed the legislation, the mere act of introducing and passing the legislation on the very last day of session shows their true priorities. The bill is currently on the governor’s desk awaiting final signature.
So, despite the fact that Americans favor the federal government requiring employers to offer free birth control coverage as part of their health insurance benefits (according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll), politicians continue to find new ways to restrict access. The court’s decision in Griswold may have provided the first constitutional protection of birth control, but that hasn’t stopped opponents of women’s health from trying to restrict access to this basic, preventive care. Women will be watching where the politicians stand on the issue, and in November women will be voting!