According to Newsweek, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta appeared before a House committee and displayed that he had very little knowledge about contraception. This comes after Acosta’s Labor department along with Health and Human Services and Treasury introduced rules in November 2018 which allowed employers to opt out of giving employees health insurance that covers contraceptives if they morally or religiously object to it.
Pennsylvania’s federal court issued a nationwide injunction against the rules in January. “The negative effects of even a short period of decreased access to no-cost contraceptive services are irreversible,” U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone said.
“For women, reproductive health care is health care,” said Rep. Underwood, who is a nurse, 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. Despite the fact that courts have repeatedly blocked these rules, you and this administration are continuing your efforts to deny women contraceptive coverage.”
Acosta was asked by Underwood if he knew how much contraceptives cost. Acosta answered that he was aware they were unaffordable for many people. Afterwards, Underwood asked if he knew that some women use contraceptives in order to treat other medical conditions. He flippantly replied that he is not a physician. Underwood then informed him that women sometimes use birth control to treat polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, and anemia.
“These conditions are painful, they’re linked to ovarian cysts, heavy bleeding, and infertility,” Underwood said.
“And that’s not all. I’m a nurse, and I’m the co-founder of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, and I can tell you that for far too many women in this country, pregnancy can be dangerous or even deadly.” She continued, “One of the judges who blocked your rules wrote that they would cause over 70,000 women to lose contraceptive coverage; 70,000 women.”
“Women’s lives and their health depend on their ability to access contraceptives. Your actions, your actions, sir, are denying science and putting American women at risk.”
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