It is impossible to predict exactly what changes a Donald Trump presidency will bring because Trump isn’t scheduled to take office until noon on January 20, 2017. However, he has already made certain statements that could have an impact on women’s life, especially in regards to health care and reproductive rights.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare, was enacted into law in 2010 and is the first topic up for discussion. While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) made many changes to the health care system, the preventative services provision—which requires, among other things, that insurers cover birth control, yearly checkups, and screenings at no cost to women—is of particular interest. And women have undoubtedly benefited from these advantages. According to a National Women’s Law Center report, over 55 million women now receive birth control and other preventative services without having to pay out of pocket, saving $1.4 billion annually.
The importance of this ACA provision for women cannot be overstated, according to Janel George, the National Women’s Law Center’s director of federal reproductive rights and health. She says that a woman’s health, financial security, educational opportunities, and career all depend on her being able to decide how many and space out her children. (With Rodale’s 12-day power plan for better health, heal your entire body.)
The likelihood of this occurring is very high. Trump was adamant about repealing the ACA during the campaign, telling Martha Raddatz of ABC that “the one thing we have to do is repeal and replace ObamaCare.” It is a catastrophe. Later, he made it clear during the Republican debates that he was fine with keeping some aspects of the ACA, such as the rules allowing people under the age of 26 to remain on their parents’ health insurance and prohibiting insurance providers from turning away people with pre-existing conditions.
But based on a recent late-night Senate vote, those assurances might not be kept. The Republican majority rejected several proposed amendments to safeguard important parts of the ACA on Wednesday night while passing a bill that would eventually help its repeal, including coverage for contraception and continued access to coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. Even though the ACA has not yet been repealed, the outlook is not good for those who support the law.
Neither Trump nor Price have made any specific policy or replacement plans for the ACA known.
Trump hasn’t provided any substantive responses yet, but that doesn’t mean women don’t have questions. In light of this, we asked George to explain what might potentially happen to women’s health care under a Trump presidency and what you can do to safeguard yourself.
Will I still get free birth control?
No, not if the ACA is completely repealed. According to George, if Trump doesn’t introduce new legislation that does this, things will return to how they were before the ACA.
Will birth control become more costly or more difficult to obtain?
Birth control varies greatly in price. When compared to an IUD, which can cost up to $800, a generic version of the pill may only cost a few dollars per month. However, the law currently provides free coverage for all contraceptive methods that have received FDA approval. George laments that this may no longer be the case and that women may once again be required to foot the bill for contraception. That’s probably the reason why so many women announced that they would get an IUD the day after the election. It is still unknown whether these costs will rise above pre-ACA levels.
What about other women’s reproductive health services?
The fact that the preventative services provision mandates insurers to pay for birth control as well as annual well-woman exams, STI screenings, breastfeeding support, counseling, and support for victims of domestic violence, among other things, is one of the things that makes it so great. (A complete list can be found at HHS.gov.) Without the ACA or a comparable law, George predicts that women will return to having varying levels of coverage with high out-of-pocket costs.
Will over the counter emergency contraception (Plan B) still be offered?
George argues that since non-prescription drugs and services are not covered by the ACA, the current regulations for Plan B should stand. That doesn’t mean getting it won’t be more difficult, though. According to The Washington Post, Trump’s pro-life adviser Marjorie Dannenfelser has advocated for overturning the FDA’s controversial decision to permit sales of emergency contraception over-the-counter.
Would Trump be able to outlaw abortion and overturn Roe v. Wade?
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which forbids abortions after 20 weeks, was signed into law earlier this year by Trump, who ran on a pro-life platform. It is still unclear how this would proceed under existing legal precedent. The Supreme Court upheld Roe v. Therefore, even if Trump wanted to reverse it, he couldn’t do it on his own. That said, should any vacancies on the Supreme Court arise, Trump will be able to nominate justices, and if they are all pro-life, it might be possible to legally overturn Roe v. Wade in the future.
Trump might decide to stop funding Planned Parenthood or shut it down.
Many of the millions of women and men who receive comprehensive health care services from Planned Parenthood are low-income or otherwise vulnerable. However, Trump also expressed his desire to “defund Planned Parenthood as long as they continue to perform abortions, and reallocate their funding to community health centres that provide comprehensive healthcare for women” in the same letter he sent regarding the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. George argues that while Trump lacks the authority to abolish the institution on his own, he has the ability to severely weaken it through executive orders and legal amendments.
What can I do to safeguard my reproductive rights and myself?
It makes sense that many women are anxious about the impending changes, and Trump’s lack of specificity is both reassuring (maybe everything will turn out okay!) and terrifying (we’re returning to the dark ages!). Nevertheless, there are things you can do right away even though we don’t have a lot of information. Raise your voices, advises George. “Talk to your friends, post on social media, write to your representatives, and let them know how important women’s reproductive rights are to you.” Keep your insurance company and your doctor informed of any changes to your coverage in the interim. And bookmark this page, as we’ll be updating it regularly with any and all news.