Illinois Democrats denounce Trump’s rollback of birth control coverage


(Daily file photo by Katie Pach)

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) speaks at an Open Communities event in February. Schakowsky joined other Illinois politicians in criticizing President Donald Trump’s rollback of birth control coverage.

Jake Holland, Assistant City Editor

Illinois Democrats rebuked President Donald Trump’s decision to roll back a birth control mandate issued by the Obama administration, calling the move an “attack” on women’s health.

Trump’s decision, announced Friday, would exempt employers and insurers from paying for coverage of contraceptives if they object based on religious or moral beliefs. The move was intended to fulfill a promise Trump made five months ago to “not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.”

In a Friday statement, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) called birth control an “essential” part of women’s lives. She said the move would allow employers to stand in the way of women’s health care.

“It is the right of women to control their own bodies, plan their own families, chart their own futures,” Schakowsky said. “For many women, it is prohibitively expensive to access the best method for them.”

Schakowsky also decried the timing of Trump’s decision, saying that rolling out the plan on the Friday before a long weekend “isn’t fooling anyone” and that “women are smarter than that.”

The Affordable Care Act mandate, signed into law seven years ago by former President Barack Obama, requires that birth control be covered as a preventive service with no copay — meaning health insurance companies will often fund the entire cost. Trump’s move will likely impact millions of American women who currently receive contraceptives for free under this provision.

Some Republican lawmakers, however, lauded the change as a victory for religious groups uncomfortable with providing health care that goes against their moral beliefs. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called the plan “a landmark day for religious liberty.”

“Now, the Trump administration has developed a commonsense rule to avoid a needless fight,” Ryan said. “The conscience protections installed will ensure that people and organizations can freely live out their religious convictions and moral beliefs.”

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) called the move a transparent and “utterly shameless” attack on American women’s access to affordable health care in a Saturday tweet. She added that reproductive rights are not the only benefits at stake.

“Limiting access to (birth control) doesn’t just limit women’s reproductive rights — it limits health care options for medical conditions like endometriosis,” Duckworth said.

State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) said in a Friday statement that the rollback is part of Trump’s “anti-woman” agenda. He expressed his anger at Trump having “dismissed this fundamental right.”

Biss also went a step further, saying that Trump’s move emphasized the importance of state and federal universal health care.

“Somber days like these underscore the importance of fighting for our values here in Illinois and ground me in the need to fight for universal healthcare at the state and federal levels,” Biss said.

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