In 2008 when then Senator Barack Obama was still campaigning for the presidency and there were notions that the Bush administration would offer a parting shot to women’s groups and the reproductive health community, Obama’s take on the proposed regulation to expand religious restrictions was clear –
“We need to restore integrity to our public health programs, not create backdoor efforts to weaken them. I am committed to ensuring that the health and reproductive rights of women are protected.”
But now, here we are three years later, and under President Obama, we are still having a very similar fight.
In August, we secured a huge victory when a set of preventive health services were adopted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to be covered by all new health insurance plans without co-payments included contraception. But even then, we were disappointed by the inclusion of an exemption for certain religious employers. Our supporters helped us send nearly 15,000 messages to HHS expressing our opposition to the refusal language included in this groundbreaking rule.
But religious institutions are pressuring, President to expand the refusal language to exclude a broader range of instituions. Before Thanksgiving, we gathered nearly 10,000 messages from our supporters opposing both the original exemption and any expansion of it.
But that may not be enough! We need to continue to keep the pressure on. Please make sure your friends, family, peers, and colleagues know that the President is under pressure to the refusal language and that women may lose the coverage they gained this summer and encourage them to get involved. You can call the White House directly 1-888-534-5471 to register your opposition or send the President an email.
If the current language is expanded, more than a million women may lose coverage for birth control that we fought so hard for. We can’t let that happen. Tell President Obama that all women need access to affordable birth control!
To learn more about why denying contraceptives harms women, check out our factsheet.