Supreme Court Allows Employers and Universities to Deny Access to Birth Control Coverage

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld two Trump administration rules that allow employers and universities to push their religious or moral beliefs on employees and students by denying them access to insurance that covers birth control. Employers and universities will be able to decide — based on their own objections — if their health insurance plans cover birth control.

The Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit expanded contraceptive coverage with no out-of-pocket costs for more than 62 million women, including 17 million Latinas and 15 million Black women. Because of this decision, many more businesses and universities will have the opportunity to opt out of providing this critical coverage.

Oregon is among 26 states that have passed laws to provide critical protections of contraceptive coverage. The Reproductive Health Equity Act, which was passed in 2017, requires commercial health plans regulated by the State of Oregon to continue covering birth control at no out-of-pocket cost, regardless of what happens at the federal level. However, the law does not apply to federal health plans, such as the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), TRICARE or Civilian Health or Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS), nor does it apply to self-funded plans or other plans subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon is working with coalition partners and state leaders to determine the scope of the ruling’s impact on Oregonians.

Statement from Lisa Gardner, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon:

“Today’s ruling is egregious — people rely on birth control for their health, for their livelihoods and for their ability to determine their own futures. This decision further divides our country into those who have and those who have not. Birth control should not be restricted to only those who are wealthy enough to pay for it themselves.”

Statement from Anne Udall, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette:

“We will not stop until everyone who needs birth control and other sexual and reproductive health care can access it — no matter who you work for, where you go to school, how much money you make or the color of your skin. You have the right to make your own decisions about your body, your health care and your future.”

Statement from Emily McLain, Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon:

“It is clear today that access to all sexual and reproductive health care is under attack. Restrictions like this target Black and Latinx people who are more likely to be low income and for whom basic health care has always remained out of reach, because of historic structural racism and continued underinvestment in access to affordable care. We are ready and will never back down from this fight.”

An overwhelming majority of Americans believe women should have birth control coverage, regardless of their employer’s objections. This ruling is in direct opposition to what Americans want. Granting employers and universities the right to take away coverage for essential and time-sensitive medication like birth control will complicate healthcare needs. It will also add to the economic hardships many face during the COVID-19 pandemic — access to birth control is responsible for one-third of women’s wage gains relative to men’s since the 1960s.