On July 8, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled to uphold the Trump Administration’s regulations allowing employers and insurers to decline providing contraception coverage because of religious or moral objections. Implementation of these rules will immediately and significantly decrease contraceptive access for 70,500 to 126,400 women.
When the rules were implemented in 2017, Medicines360 expressed our strong opposition alongside countless women’s health advocates. Lawsuits were filed, petitions were circulated, and grassroots campaigns were organized in response to this attack on women’s health. This ruling is likely to have an impact more detrimental than we ever imagined.
“We firmly believe that access to affordable contraception shouldn’t depend on whether your boss believes in birth control,” said Jessica Grossman, M.D., CEO of Medicines360. “Unfortunately, today’s Supreme Court decision will do exactly this—undoing years of progress in expanding contraceptive coverage.”
As a nonprofit pharmaceutical organization that makes our hormonal IUD available through safety-net clinics, Medicines360 sees the hidden consequences of the Court’s decision.
First, limiting the contraceptive choices available to women detracts from the doctor-patient relationship. This ruling could cause women and their doctors to base their contraceptive decisions on factors that shouldn’t be involved, such as a method’s eligibility to be covered by insurance. This is problematic because the most effective contraceptive methods are often the most expensive. We must ensure women’s care decisions are patient-centric and based on clinical concerns first and foremost, including sound evidence, careful weighing of the benefits of medicines for patients, and other factors that are best handled between women and their doctors.
Furthermore, the only way to close gaps in access is to ensure not just some, but all people have access to the full range of contraceptive methods. It shouldn’t depend on your employer. These rules undermine equitable access and remove choice.
It’s counterproductive and harmful to uphold these rules, as they hinder the progress we’ve made towards improving women’s access to reproductive health care. Access to contraception and family planning counseling helps improve health outcomes for women and infants. The cost implications of an increase in unplanned pregnancy rates would be profound: our health system would be forced to bear more financial costs, and children, women, families, and communities would become less secure.
Access to contraception helps women attain higher levels of education, more economic success, and healthier families. For young adults, even modest increases in the availability of contraception leads to significant and lasting educational and employment gains for women.
We at Medicines360 work tirelessly to provide affordable, quality medicines to all women and believe these rules simply should not exist in 2020. Why? Because nothing should ever stand in the way of women and the medicines they need.