Birth Control Insurance Change May Mean Little

Both sides of the issue made a lot of noise, but in the end allowing companies to stop birth control insurance coverage may affect few Minnesotans.

“Almost all Minnesota employers covered contraception before the (current federal law) and we don’t expect that to change,” Eileen Smith of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans said Monday, Oct. 9, after the Trump administration announced it will let firms drop the coverage.

However, Planned Parenthood said the decision could lead to more pregnancies.

“In Minnesota, unintended pregnancy is at an all-time low,” said President Sarah Stoesz of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. “Teen pregnancy and birth rates are at historic lows. … Therefore, it is unthinkable that the Trump administration continues to do everything in its power to cut women off from health care access and birth control.”

On the other hand, the conservative Minnesota Family Council was happy with President Donald Trump’s move.

“President Trump made promises on the campaign trail to secure eroding religious freedom protections and this new rule does that for employers,” said council Chief Executive Officer John Helmberger.

Most businesses were required to offer free birth control in their insurance packages before Friday’s change. That was under the federal law popularly known as Obamacare.

After Trump and a Republican Congress could not overturn President Barack Obama’s signature health legislation, the GOP president has begun to chip away at what he can.

On Friday, his administration changed rules so most businesses can drop birth control coverage for religious or moral objections. Federal health care officials said employers would not need to seek federal approval if they want to change.

Some conservative organizations have fought the Obama provision in court since it went on the books in 2012.

Friday’s Trump changes drew immediate legal action. The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Women’s Law Center said they would sue, as did the state of California.

Both sides of the debate agree that abortions are decreasing in Minnesota. But Minnesotans Concerned for Life, a conservative anti-abortion group, recently released a report showing Planned Parenthood is increasing the number of abortions it performs in the state.

“Its clear goal is to perform as many abortions as possible, and it does so year after year,” said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach.

MCCL reports that Planned Parenthood performed 57 percent of Minnesota’s 9,953 abortions last year.

Birth control is an important way to keep abortions down, Planned Parenthood’s Stoesz said. She said Minnesota state lawmakers should “take swift action” to change Minnesota law to require birth control coverage.

“Politicians and bosses have no business denying women access to this basic health care,” Stoesz said. “All women, no matter who their boss is, deserve access to the benefits provided through the Affordable Care Act, including birth control coverage.”

On the conservative side, Helmberger said the governor is supposed to protect religion’s rights. “Americans should never have to choose between their faith and their work.”