Wolf calls on state lawmakers to protect access to birth control

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Oct 10, 2017 4:01 AM

Photo by AP Photo/Matt Rourke

(Harrisburg) -- Governor Tom Wolf is calling on the state legislature to require employers provide birth control coverage in their health insurance plans.

That coverage had been required under the Affordable Care Act, but the Trump Administration has taken steps to weaken the mandate.

The state Insurance Department estimates 2.5 million Pennsylvania women directly benefit from the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate, which required companies to provide insurance that covers birth control as preventive care--at no cost to the employee.

After a lawsuit from a group of nuns and the craft supply store Hobby Lobby, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that privately held companies could object to the mandate on religious grounds.

Now the Trump Administration says any company can drop contraceptive coverage for religious or moral reasons.

Governor Tom Wolf is urging the state legislature to protect women's access to birth control in the commonwealth.

"The governor feels that this is important, that people have access to birth control and other contraceptives regardless of what their employer believes," said the governor's spokesman J.J. Abbott. 

The Wolf Administration said Medicaid and state health care plans will continue to provide birth control with no co-pay.

"This is health care not just for women but for the whole family, and a lot of families rely on having access to affordable contraceptive," Abbott said. 

It's not clear how the request will be viewed in the Republican-controlled legislature. A spokeswoman for Senate Republicans said the caucus has not discussed the topic.

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