On July 8, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled in seven to two to allow employers to cite moral objections in order to deny their employees insurance coverage for birth control.
In other words, if an employer disagrees with the idea of birth control they can refuse to cover it through the employee insurance. This would leave women to pay out of their own pockets for contraceptive services. In fact, the U.S. governments’ own projections are that 70,500 to 126,400 women of childbearing age will lose coverage.
To those who are unaware, birth control is used for so much more than just preventing pregnancies. Many doctors prescribe birth control as an effective method of reducing chronic pain and ailments.
Hormonal birth control has helped millions of women world-wide reduce chronic cramping — which is so bad for some women that it is crippling, migraines, cystic acne and more.
Many women suffer from menstrual cramps so severe that they cannot function regularly, let alone go into work or school.
Not only does birth control alleviate this pain for many, but it is a fundamental right that a woman should be able to decide about her body.
I saw an article that explained how having children shouldn’t be evaluated on an opt-out basis. If someone wants to start a family, or have children, it should be an explicit opt-in system. Raising children isn’t a choice that should be made if you are on the fence. It is a lifetime commitment of love and care, and you should be able to say with 100 per cent certainty that that is the path you want to take.
With these new regulations, there are going to be so many women who can’t afford to pay out of pocket for birth control. Allowing employers to make these decisions is essentially placing the reproductive rights of their female employees in their hands. And it is wrong.
Not to mention the employers who will remove contraceptive coverage from employee insurance plans are more than likely the same people who are adamantly against abortion. Do they not realize the most effective method of reducing the rate of unwanted pregnancies and abortion is through birth control?
And many are probably thinking it: That is in the U.S., that isn’t happening in Canada. But it could.
During the last federal election, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer skirted around the issues of legislation on women’s reproductive rights and freedoms. He said that a Conservative government would not introduce abortion legislation. However, his comments suggested that Conservative backbenchers would be free to do so and Conservatives would be free to vote their “conscience” on said bills or motions.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney agreed with the statements made by Scheer and echoed them during his own campaign leading up to the provincial election.
Kenney has not been shy about breaking promises he made when running for premier, including when he promised to increase funding for education and teachers and support staff across Alberta, when thus far he has cut a significant amount of funds and positions across the province.
The legislation handed down in the U.S. has reminded me yet again how lucky I am to have the privileges that I do in regards to my own health and reproductive rights in Canada. However, it has also re-iterated my need to remain vigilant about these issues and what policies are being created throughout North America while our focus is fighting this pandemic.