Lawmakers, CT Planned Parenthood speak out after president's 'ro - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lawmakers, CT Planned Parenthood speak out after president's 'rollback of free birth control coverage'

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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB/AP) -

Senators and representatives, as well as officials with Connecticut Planned Parenthood, reacted after President Donald Trump expanded the opt-out for workplace insurance. 

Trump is allowing more employers to opt out of providing no-cost birth control to women by claiming religious or moral objections, issuing new rules Friday that take another step in rolling back the Obama health care law.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said he has been "vocal in his criticism of the Trump administration for systematically attempting to sabotage the Affordable Care Act." 

On Friday, Murphy said he was "sick and tired of Republicans trying to take away women’s health care."

"It’s 2017—women should be able to get birth control if they want it, no matter where they work. President Trump just allowed employers to push their political agenda on their female employees,” Murphy said in a statement on Friday. “The Affordable Care Act was life-changing for so many women who can now actually afford birth control. This is just another attempt by President Trump to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. I’ll do everything I can to fight back.”

Murphy was also against "defunding advertisements ahead of open enrollment and shutting down Healthcare.gov for periods of time during open enrollment." 

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said women "deserve the freedom to access contraception at their own discretion - not at the whim of an employer." Blumenthal added the madate "allowed 62 million American women to access birth control at no cost." 

“Gutting this mandate is a disgraceful denial of hard evidence that it has saved billions of dollars, reduced unintended pregnancies, and improved the health of nearly 62 million women nationwide. This backwards move is the latest in a long list of unconscionable steps taken by an Administration apparently unconcerned with the financial, physical, and psychological wellbeing of millions of American women and their families," Blumenthal said in a statement on Friday.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) called the recent actions by the president "completely outrageous." and added that birth control "is essential for women to control their lives and maintain their health." 

"The Affordable Care Act requires coverage for contraception as a preventative care benefit for women. The Trump administration would now allow employers to impose their beliefs regarding family planning on women—decisions that should be left to each woman and her family—by denying no-copay birth control to women and forcing them to pay the full cost for contraception out of pocket," DeLauro said in a statement on Friday.

DeLauro went on to say "the vast majority of women use contraception at some point in their lives." 

"More than that, the Affordable Care Act helped countless women afford birth control who would not have been able to otherwise. President Trump’s decision to destroy that progress is unconscionable and defies the reality that women face every day," DeLauro said.

But, it was not just lawmakers reacting to the news. Planned Parenthood of Southern New England President and CEO Amanda Skinner said birth control "is not controversial."

"It is basic health care the vast majority of women will use in their lifetime. We are talking about a fundamental right – to be able to decide whether and when someone wants to have children," Skinner said in a statement on Friday. "We cannot let the government and politicians take that right away from millions of people in this country in a blatant attempt to roll back the progress women have made over the past century.”

Dr. Abigail Cutler of the CT chapter of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said contraception "is an integral part of preventive care" and added that it is "a medical necessity for women during approximately 30 years of their lives." 

"Since the Affordable Care Act increased access to contraceptives, our nation has achieved a 30 year low in its unintended pregnancy rate, including among teens. Any move to decrease access to these vital services would have damaging effects on public health and would essentially, turn back the clock on women’s health," Cutler said in a statement on Friday.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called the decision "an affront to women’s healthcare" and "a slap in the face to millions of women who rely on birth control as part of their health needs." 

 "In our modern society, it is unconscionable that the religious – or moral – beliefs of a private, for-profit employer can dictate the kind of medical care that is available to an employee.  Putting its medical efficacy aside, let’s be clear – access to affordable birth control is an essential economic issue for American families.  We are reviewing this decision and the impact that it may have on Connecticut workers to determine if there is action we can take to protect women’s access to reproductive healthcare. We simply will not accept this action that seeks to return us to the dark ages," Malloy said in a statement on Friday.

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman said the president "made a reprehensible decision that has the potential to immediately harm millions of women and their families."

"It is a basic, fundamental fact: birth control is healthcare.  Their policy shows contempt for women, women’s health, and health experts, like those at the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, who have issued full-throated support of the many benefits of birth control far beyond contraception.  Through this policy shift, the Trump administration continues to sow ignorance, confusion, and instability," Wyman said in a statement on Friday.

Sarah Croucher, who is the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut, released a statement as well on Friday. 

“Today’s Interim Final Rule is a new low for an administration already committed to interfering with access to comprehensive reproductive health care. The Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage mandate allows women to access the birth control they need to protect their health, plan their futures, and care for themselves and their families. The IFR unleashed today will let employers decline to cover birth control for their employees for virtually any reason, starting immediately. This puts many thousands of women in our state at risk of losing coverage," Croucher said. 

NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut "works to pass pro-choice legislation and defend against anti-choice legislation at the State Capitol," according to their website. 

The organization said Connecticut did not pass SB. 586, which "would have strengthened protections for contraceptive coverage for women insured in Connecticut."

"We call on our state politicians to work on legislation to ensure that women in our state are not denied coverage for birth control that is not only used for contraception, but is also vital for controlling many other health conditions. Connecticut women need commonsense legislation so that they can hold on to the copay-free contraceptive coverage they need and deserve, regardless of their employer’s position on birth control," Croucher said. 

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