On Women’s Equality Day, AU Affirms Commitment To Defend Women’s Access to Birth Control

Saturday is Women’s Equality Day, when Americans mark the anniversary of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote. It’s a welcome opportunity to reflect on how far our nation has advanced in the fight for equal rights. And it’s a stark reminder of just how far we have left to go.

The Trump administration is poised to take action that will stand in the way of many women’s equal participation in our society. A regulation coming soon would allow bosses and universities to use religion as an excuse to deny their staff and students health insurance coverage for birth control.

Women – not politicians, employers or universities – should have the sole right to make decisions about their own health care. Stripping insurance coverage for birth control is discrimination, plain and simple.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) ensures that women have access to affordable and effective contraception, a huge advance for women’s health and equality. As former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor explained, “The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.”

As we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, AU commits to continue the fight for women’s equality.

Here’s what women have told us about why access to birth control is important to them:

  • "I use contraception to protect myself from unwanted pregnancy, in order to reach my own full potential as a productive member of society."
  • "Contraception enables me to focus on my degree and puts me in control of my own reproductive health."
  • "I believe that my education is just as important as those of my male peers, and therefore I use birth control.”

The anticipated Trump regulation would let any for-profit corporation, university or nonprofit institution cite religion to deny their employees and students insurance coverage for contraception. Sign up to receive emails from Americans United for updates about the proposed regulation and how you can help to fight back!

The imminent Trump rule is just the latest attack on the ACA’s policy to require access to birth control. For-profit corporations (like Hobby Lobby) and nonprofit institutions (including prominent universities) went to court to argue that the policy should not apply to them because they have religious objections to providing the coverage to their employees and students.

Religion, however, is not an excuse to allow these organizations to deny women access to health care.

Americans United has been fighting these challenges, and we’ll continue to fight if Trump’s proposed regulations go into effect. Women’s equality is at stake. We will fight on behalf of Jane Doe and Ann Doe, students who would be harmed by losing their coverage and whom we represent in one of the cases, University of Notre Dame v. Price. We will fight to ensure that the voices of students, faculty and staff at religiously affiliated universities who signed our friend-of-the-court brief in a case that went to the Supreme Court, Zubik v. Price, continue to be heard.  

Religious freedom is a fundamental American value. So is the right to make decisions for yourself about your own health care. Trump’s proposed rule betrays both. Discrimination disguised as “religious freedom” is still discrimination.

As we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, we commit to continue our fight for women’s equality and ask you to join us.