December 21, 2017

Warren, Murray, Colleagues Call on Trump Administration to Rescind Rule Denying Women Access to Birth Control Coverage

Overwhelming Opposition to Rule in Public Comments from American Women; Birth Control Coverage of over 60 Million at Risk

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, DC - Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and 16 of their colleagues sent a letter to Acting Health and Human Services Secretary Eric Hargan, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin highlighting the hundreds of thousands of comments in opposition to the Trump Administration's interim final rules (IFR) significantly weakening the birth control requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The senators called on the Administration to rescind the rules, and requested answers on how the Administration will address the impact that undermining birth control coverage will have on women's health and economic freedoms.

One commenter wrote, "My husband and I would not be able to handle a child today or in the near future while I pursue my career, and birth control keeps me as a productive member of society...Taking away birth control protections is a huge mistake for someone who claims to want a better economy." According to another, "Birth control is necessary for millions of women for many many reasons, and no politician ... (has) the right to take that away from us." The senators' letter includes more personal anecdotes from commenters, demonstrating the vital role that birth control plays in Americans' lives.

"Promoting access to birth control is about giving women the freedom and ability to plan their futures. Women use contraception to prevent pregnancy, to avoid sexually transmitted infections, and to control debilitating health conditions," said Senator Warren. "This Trump administration rule shrinks the economic futures of millions of women across the country. It should be overturned."

Because of the ACA requirement that insurers cover birth control, millions of women have now gained access to contraceptive coverage. But the new IFRs issued by the Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury departments "permit employers and universities to claim broad religious or moral exemptions to covering birth control. They also make the religious accommodation process voluntary-placing the birth control coverage of over 62.4 million American women at risk," wrote the senators.

Over 500,000 commenters have expressed their opposition to the Administration's birth control IFRs to the Department of Health and Human Services alone, with thousands more writing in to the Departments of Labor and Treasury. A federal court has halted their enforcement.

In addition to rescinding the rule, the senators called on the Departments to provide answers on how they will address the threat posed by the IFRs to the economic and health benefits of birth control coverage no later than January 5, 2018.

Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Al Franken (D-Minn.) also signed the letter.