As the Griswold v. Connecticut decision turns 50, its importance cannot be overlooked. Not only did Griswold lay the groundwork for cases like Roe v. Wade, but it also helped pave the way for policies to make it easier for women to gain access to contraception.
One of the most important of these policies is the birth control benefit included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under the ACA, new insurance plans must provide birth control without co-pays or deductibles and must cover a wide range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods including the pill, IUDs, and the shot (Depo-Provera). That’s right. Birth control is now FREE. The ACA has finally recognized what women have known all along: birth control is fundamental in protecting women’s health.
With increased access to health insurance, more women will now be able to obtain the birth control that is best for them, without having to sacrifice what’s most appropriate because of cost. Before the ACA only 15% of women could get the pill for free; that number has jumped to 67%. Similar jumps have been seen with the shot, the ring (NuvaRing), and IUDs. Unfortunately, there are always people who try to create exceptions or find loopholes around the law. One of the more obvious examples that comes to mind is last year’s Hobby Lobby ruling. This ruling essentially valued corporations over women. A majority of the Supreme Court ruled in Hobby Lobby that for-profit companies were free to discriminate against women by refusing to provide coverage for her reproductive health needs under the guise of “religious freedom.”
Events like these are downright depressing and frustrating. Why are people in power, most of whom are men, getting to make decisions about my reproductive health? Why are they trying to limit access to something that not only prevents pregnancy, but also clears acne, relieves PMS, and even lowers cancer risk?
At times like these, it is important for us to stay vigilant. We cannot sit idly by and allow our reproductive rights to disappear. Fortunately there are people who are working hard to protect our freedoms and our right to make private health choices without interference from our bosses..
In New York, for example, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has introduced a bill that would require insurance companies to expand their contraceptive coverage. Currently under the ACA, insurance companies only have to cover one version of all the 18 federally approved birth control methods. Schneiderman’s bill would make multiple versions of birth control methods available, giving women more free options and ensuring that women are not subject to the whims of insurance companies.
Thank you Griswold for setting the precedent that has allowed women to protect our privacy and control our health and lives. We have made a tremendous amount of progress, especially with the ACA, but unfortunately our rights are still continually being threatened.
We must remain alert, protect the gains we have won, and move forward to create policies that help ensure that all women can access the reproductive health care that they need.