Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) exposed how little Labor Secretary Alex Acosta knows or cares about why women need contraception.
One would think Labor Secretary Alex Acosta would understand basic things about birth control, given that his Cabinet department is trying to implement rules that let bosses cite their religious beliefs to refuse to offer insurance plans to their employees that cover various forms of contraceptives.
Yet Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) — a freshman Democratic lawmaker who was a nurse before winning election to Congress in 2018 — exposed just how little Acosta knows or cares about birth control, the reasons women need it, and the impact his actions will have on women's health and financial stability.
"For women, reproductive health care is health care," Underwood told Acosta at the hearing. "But your department has issued rules that deny the science of reproductive health care and allow employers to deny workers health insurance that covers contraceptives."
Underwood went on to ask Acosta basic questions about birth control. She asked him whether he knew how much it costs, that it is used for many other health conditions and not just to prevent pregnancy, and that for many women preventing pregnancy is a health issue in and of itself.
Acosta evaded or danced around answering her questions — to which Underwood laid down facts about just how expensive birth control is without insurance coverage, and the litany of conditions women use birth control to treat, including polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, and anemia.
"Women’s lives and their health depend on their ability to access contraceptives," Underwood said. "Your actions, your actions, sir, are denying science and putting American women at risk."
Sec. Acosta didn’t know women use contraceptives to treat medical conditions, but is still trying to limit our access to birth control.
He didn’t know junk plans don’t protect people with pre-existing conditions, but he’s trying to expand them anyway.
Not 👏🏾 on 👏🏾my 👏🏾 watch! pic.twitter.com/P7v57UT3Q6
— Lauren Underwood (@RepUnderwood) May 1, 2019
Of course, federal courts have blocked the rule the Trump administration tried to implement to exempt employers from offering contraception coverage for religious reasons.
A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation about the rule showed just how destructive it could be, should the courts ultimately allow it to stand.
"As a result of the new regulation, choices about coverage and cost-sharing will be made by employers and private colleges and universities that issue student plans," the study states. "For many women, their employers will determine whether they have no-cost coverage to the full range of FDA approved methods. Their choice of contraceptive methods may again be limited by cost, placing some of the most effective yet costly methods out of financial reach."
It's alarming that the people making such consequential decisions on women's reproductive rights have not even a basic understanding of how contraceptives are used.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.