Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher believes workers are entitled to birth control access, no matter what.
According to Refinery29, the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act prohibits employers from taking action against workers who make reproductive-health decisions they disagree with, such as using birth control, getting an abortion, or conceiving through in-vitro fertilization. The law criminalizes employers who fire their employees for decisions about their reproductive health.
The bill, which was sponsored by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League Pro-Choice California and California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, was passed in the state assembly in mid-September. It has since been sent to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for approval.
This isn’t the first time contraceptive protections like this have been introduced into a legislative body. However, it’s one of the first that have been successfully passed.
The Washington Post reported in April 2015, the House of Representatives voted down a similar measure that would’ve offered similar protections to D.C. residents. The conservative resistance against the measure was spearheaded by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who had, at the time, recently launched his presidential campaign.
Critics, similar to those of the RHNDA in California, claimed the protections infringed upon employer’s “religious liberty.” This same criticism fueled the Supreme Court’s landmark decision of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., which, under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, allows closely held for-profit corporations to be exempt from regulation its owners religious objects to.
During the first week of October, President Trump rolled back on the Obamacare birth control mandate, which provides FDA-approved contraception at no cost. Politico reports this policy, which would take effect right away, would allow employers to “claim a religious or moral objection” to contraceptive coverage included in the Affordable Care Act and therefore, not offer it to their employees. Meanwhile, the Atlantic Civil Liberties Union plans to file a lawsuit fighting against this policy.
In Trump’s America, we see that access to affordable healthcare is constantly under siege. Unfortunately, it’s not just birth control, either. The administration has also actively attacked pre-existing conditions previously protected by Obamacare in 2010. Although the President had claimed otherwise in a series of tweets, the Los Angeles Times reports a new Trumpcare bill would, in fact, not include a “clause that guarantees” those with pre-existing conditions will be covered. Pre-existing conditions can range from mood disorders to chronic pain to even pregnancy.
Before 2010, insurance companies could charge women more for health services. The idea stems from the idea women are larger consumers of the medical industry compared to men because of their ability to get pregnant, even though they may not have any intention of ever having children. NPR reports women were collectively paying $1 billion more than men every year for health insurance premiums.
Fortunately, California took an important step towards protecting access to contraception. Hopefully, other states will follow their lead as the federal government rolls back other types of healthcare legislation.