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Friday Femorandum: “Moral Objections”

Remember, 500 years ago, when you didn’t wake up every morning and wonder, as you opened your eyes, “What horrible thing has the President done to women while I slept?”

This week, women across the country learned that the serial sexual harasser, two-time divorcee, and proud p*ssy-grabber who occupies the Oval Office has decided our employers should be allowed to decide they don’t want to pay for our birth control coverage for virtually any reason, as long as they call it a “moral objection.”

Documents leaked to Vox this week showed that Trump plans to expand the religious exemption to the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate, which was established under the controversial Hobby Lobby case. The current rule allows a narrow exemption to the mandate for religious groups or “closely held” private companies like Hobby Lobby, whose owners object to the notion that women should be able to have sex without making babies. Everyone knew at the time that employers and anti-choice groups would push to expand the exemption, and now Trump has indicated he plans to do just that, by allowing any company to file paperwork stating that it objects to birth control coverage for religious or “moral” reasons, an undefined term that could mean almost literally anything.

HULU tv wtf what parks and recreation GIFThe new, broader exemption, the New York Times reports, could deny birth control coverage to hundreds of thousands of women who now receive birth control at no cost through the ACA. The language of the Trump rule explicitly says that there’s no clear connection between access to birth control and lower rates of unintended pregnancy, which have plummeted as contraception has become available to more women, including young women, and pregnancy rates have decreased. This claim contradicts numerous studies that are based on science and evidence, which definitively link access to contraception to lower birth rates (and teen birth rates); fortunately for Trump, the rule his administration drafted “does not require that the guidelines be ‘evidence-based’ or ‘evidence-informed.’ ”

Think Progress calls the new rule “devastating” to women, noting that the rule suggests women who no longer have access to low-cost birth control can simply get pills through Medicaid or Title X, the federal program that pays for health care (though not abortions) for low-income women. Trump, of course, has promised to decimate both Medicaid and Title X, which makes the rule’s suggestion that women use those programs for birth control breathtakingly disingenuous. wtf confused lost nervous unsure GIF

Mother Jones puts a finer point on Trump’s birth control doublespeak, pointing out that Trump has vowed to “defund Planned Parenthood” and other health-care providers that receive money through Title X . (Title X, like all federal dollars, can’t pay for abortions, but Republicans want to go further and yank Title X funding from all groups that perform abortions.) “The problem with the White House’s logic,” they write, “boils down to this:

As the nation’s largest provider of federal Title X-funded care, in 2015 Planned Parenthood centers served more than 40 percent of women nationwide using Title X-funded family planning care—a whopping 1.58 million patients. But if Planned Parenthood can no longer receive a single federal dollar to provide contraception and other family planning care—an oft-repeated goal of the Trump administration—then these nearly 1.6 million low-income patients will suddenly lose their family planning care. And now their employers may not cover that care either.

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Wonkette notes that many Republicans who want to make it harder, or impossible, for women to access birth control have wildly inaccurate ideas about what birth control costs; they think it’s basically like buying a latte a couple times a week, when it’s really more like a rent payment (Republican claims in quotes):

You will also be FOR SHOCKED to learn that HHS’s assumptions about the real cost of birth control are wildly off.

“Most forms of birth control are available for around $50 per month, including long-acting methods such as the birth control shot and the IUD.”

IUDs cost around $1,000 out of pocket. Girls will just have to hold off on a new iPhone for another month!

“Other more permanent forms of contraception like implantables bear a higher one-time cost, but when calculated over the duration of use, the cost is similar to other forms of contraception.”

Sure, Norplant costs $800. But if you put aside $50 a month to save up for it, it will only take you 16 months of abstinence to earn it! So keep those knees together, little lady!

Finally, Talking Points Memo looks ahead to the lawsuit women’s rights groups, like the National Women’s Law Center and the Center for Reproductive Rights, plan to file if and when Trump’s proposed rule becomes law. President Obama’s Health and Human Services Department spent years defeating lawsuits against the contraception mandate by arguing that the government has a compelling interest in ensuring that women have access to birth control; with the new rule, Trump is saying bluntly that such a mandate does not exist, opening his administration up to a whole new round of litigation. tv vintage 70s wonder woman superhero GIF

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