Overturning Roe v Wade is only the beginning
Anti-abortion advocates believe that the termination of a pregnancy is the termination of life itself. Not only is it immoral, they say, but it definitely should not be federally protected. The debate on when life begins is a contentious one, but it’s clear that anti-abortion forces believe life begins at fertilization and conception.
Thus, to them, the fight does not end with overturning Roe v Wade – that was only the beginning of blocking access to most, if not all, forms of contraceptives. Increasingly, they are expanding their scope to attack other forms of health care, such as HIV-preventative medications.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) ensured that Plan B, IUDs, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), are covered by insurance companies at little to no out-of-pocket cost. Yet, religious extremists across the country are looking to ban them at the state level.
More than ever, access to reproductive and preventative health care is in jeopardy. A growing number of politicians have called for overturning Griswold v. Connecticut, the landmark 1965 Supreme Court case that established that married couples be given the right to legalized birth control.
Consider the following:
- In a video, U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) called Griswold “constitutionally unsound.”
- In Idaho, some state lawmakers are seriously considering banning emergency contraceptives like Plan B.
- Blake Masters, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Arizona, remarked that he would only vote for Supreme Court justices who would not protect access to contraceptives. This same attitude extends to HIV-preventative medications as well.
- Texan legislators have notoriously endorsed sex education centered primarily on abstinence, which would, in their perspective, absolve any need for contraception to begin with.
Also in Texas, Jonathan Mitchell, a far-right lawyer who helped write Senate Bill 8, the state’s restrictive abortion law, is now spearheading efforts to block access to important medications, namely Descovy and Truvada, which can prevent the transmission of HIV.
Mitchell represents several clients who object to the ACA’s mandate that insurance providers must cover PrEP, as well as different forms of contraception. The lawsuit states, “The PrEP mandate forces religious employers to provide coverage for drugs that facilitate and encourage homosexual behavior, prostitution, sexual promiscuity, and intravenous drug use. It also compels religious employers and religious individuals who purchase health insurance to subsidize these behaviors as a condition of purchasing health insurance.”
PrEP drugs save lives, and contraceptive use is extremely common. More than half of women aged 18-49 are on some form of contraception. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1.1 million people in the U.S. would benefit from taking PrEP.
This is hardly a divisive issue among most Americans, whether they are religious or not. According to a Pew Research study, most people of faith support legal access to abortion. Even more than that, almost all major religious denominations in America support the use of contraceptives.
Reproductive freedom and religious freedom go hand-in-hand. These recent events show what is at stake when the separation of church and state is tossed aside. The religious views of a loud minority should not govern the rights of the American people, especially something as personal and universal as health care.