Don’t take away ACA’s free birth con­trol

Rome News-Tribune - - EDITORIALS AND OPINION - From The Seat­tle Times

When Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ef­fec­tively re­moved the guar­an­tee of free birth con­trol from the Af­ford­able Care Act, he was pan­der­ing to his dwin­dling base and show­ing his ig­no­rance about the ways con­tra­cep­tives helps Amer­i­can fam­i­lies.

The pres­i­dent claimed the new rules is­sued Fri­day that al­low some em­ploy­ers and in­sur­ers an ex­emp­tion from the ACA pro­vi­sion re­quir­ing free con­tra­cep­tives are about re­li­gious free­dom. But this move is ac­tu­ally about eco­nomic free­dom.

Un­der the rule, em­ploy­ers now have a rel­a­tively easy way to save some money on health in­sur­ance by choos­ing to of­fer less cov­er­age.

This is a move in the wrong di­rec­tion for women, their fam­i­lies and the econ­omy.

As some mem­bers of Con­gress con­tinue their bi­par­ti­san ef­forts to strengthen the ACA, they must give women back the best tool they have to pre­vent un­wanted preg­nan­cies.

Yes, many Amer­i­can women can af­ford to buy their own con­tra­cep­tives, but the ACA also pro­vides free birth con­trol to women who may have to choose between gro­ceries and con­tra­cep­tives.

As Melinda Gates preaches con­cern­ing the Gates Foun­da­tion’s fam­ily-plan­ning work around the world, con­tra­cep­tion is a wo­man’s way out of poverty. Young women who can avoid un­wanted preg­nan­cies stay in school, get more ed­u­ca­tion plus a bet­ter chance in the work­force, and can ef­fec­tively change their lives, their fam­ily’s fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion and set their fu­ture chil­dren along a bet­ter path.

On the med­i­cal side, birth con­trol pills do more than pre­vent preg­nancy. More than half of women who use oral con­tra­cep­tive pills do so for other med­i­cal rea­sons, such as man­ag­ing hor­monal im­bal­ances, ir­reg­u­lar pe­ri­ods and en­dometrio­sis, ac­cord­ing to the Guttmacher In­sti­tute, a re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion fo­cused on sex­ual and re­pro­duc­tive health.

Un­planned birthrates have been grad­u­ally de­clin­ing in the United States, mir­ror­ing a pat­tern of in­creased con­tra­cep­tive use dur­ing the same pe­riod. The na­tional teen birthrate dropped from 29.4 births per 1,000 girls in 2012, just be­fore Oba­macare went into ef­fect, to 20.3 births per 1,000 in 2016, ac­cord­ing to fed­eral govern­ment data. Free birth con­trol un­der the ACA has been part of the rea­son.

This lat­est move by the pres­i­dent — to ful­fill one of his cam­paign prom­ises — will be met with right­eous re­sis­tance.

This move by the pres­i­dent is a mis­take — med­i­cally, eco­nom­i­cally, eth­i­cally and po­lit­i­cally.

Both men and women need to call Con­gress and ex­press their dis­ap­proval.

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