Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Religion Dispatches (March 24, 2016): Why Zubik is Especially Important For Women of Color, by Elizabeth Platt and Kira Shephard:
Commentary around Zubik v. Burwell has focused on whether opting out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)'s contraceptive mandate burdens the free exercise rights of religious non-profits. The non-profits currently have an accommodation that allows them to opt out of paying for contraceptive coverage which triggers their insurer providing coverage using separate funds. However, the non-profits claim that the act of opting out violates their rights because it will allow women to obtain contraceptive coverage through their employer health plan. If the non-profits win, it could result in the loss of contraceptive coverage for thousands of women.
Because of the importance of contraception to women's health the Institute of Medicine recommended that contraceptive care and counseling be included as preventative care that does not require a co-pay under the ACA. Platt and Shephard argue that a ruling in favor of the religious non-profits could have a particularly harsh impact on women of color who have the highest rates of unintended pregnancy, abortion, and maternal mortality.
Eliminating the disparities in reproductive health care, including high rates of unintended pregnancy, involves increasing access to contraception and contraceptive counseling. Access to contraception allows women of color to plan whether and when they have a child, which provides them with greater financial stability and freedom. Women of color, on average, earn significantly less than white women, and many cannot afford to pay for quality contraception.