Just in: An Action Plan to Protect Contraception Access in Pennsylvania

This morning, Women’s Law Project director of communications Tara Murtha spoke out at a press conference at Philadelphia City Hall in support of a new action plan designed to mitigate the public health harm of the Trump administration’s rollback of the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate.

WLP’s Tara Murtha at this morning’s press conference at Philadelphia City Hall

“Access to contraception is a public good. It saves lives. It reduces maternal and infant mortality, two public health crises our so-called pro-life lawmakers in Harrisburg and Washington, DC have not bothered to address,” said Murtha. “It is medicine for a host of medical conditions that are not pregnancy, and prevents pregnancy which, by the way, is also a medical condition.”

Murtha spoke out alongside elected officials Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, Rep. Kevin Boyle, Rep. Tina Davis, Rep. Maria Donatucci, Rep. Brian Sims, Councilwoman Cindy Bass, as well as fellow advocates from Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Access Matters and New Voices Philadelphia.

Lexi White of New Voices Philadelphia discusses the disproportionate impact of the contraception mandate rollback on women of color.

Background: In early October, the Trump administration issued a new rule eviscerating the contraception coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act, a major step in an escalating effort to promote unplanned pregnancies that includes reducing funding for Title X and slashing teen pregnancy prevention programs.

Contraception is standard medical care that has helped more than 99% of American women who have been sexually active to prevent pregnancy and treat medical conditions such as dysmenorrhea, menorrhagia (excessive menstrual bleeding), migraines, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids.

This onslaught of attacks on contraception access arrive amid record-lows of both teen pregnancy and abortion rates.

The new rule would enable practically any employer to refuse to cover contraception for any reason.

Recently, we told you Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration. The lawsuit challenges the administration’s “illegal and unjustified attempt to deny millions of women in Pennsylvania and across this country access to necessary preventive health care through their employer-sponsored insurance plans.”

Rep. Chris Rabb, Rep. Kevin Boyle and Rep. Brian Sims

As the lawsuit winds its way through the courts, Pennsylvania lawmakers are moving to protect contraception access for 2.5 million Pennsylvania women with an action plan that includes introducing legislation that would require insurers to provide coverage for contraceptives.

From the co-sponsorship memo:

This rollback allows any employer to opt-out of providing contraceptive coverage in their health plans based on religious beliefs or moral convictions. This action by the Trump Administration endangers the health and economic security of at least 2.5 million women in Pennsylvania who depend on this coverage to access affordable, effective contraceptives. To mitigate any negative effects that may arise from this rollback, our legislation will expand access to contraceptives and reduce unnecessary cost drivers in our health care system.

“The White House is on fire and it is hard to look away, but anyone who cares about women’s health needs to focus on what’s happening in Harrisburg,” says WLP Managing Attorney Terry L. Fromson. “Awareness is not enough. We’re well aware that the administration intends to push women back into the 1950s, back into unplanned parenthood, and back out of public life. People need to speak up and support local efforts to fight back.”

The Women’s Law Project is a public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

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The Women's Law Project creates a more just and equitable society by advancing the rights and status of all women throughout their lives. To this end, we engage in high-impact litigation, advocacy, and education.
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