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Missourians can be legally denied birth-control coverage

By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Courtesy of Public News Service

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Missourians can now be legally denied birth-control coverage in their employer’s health insurance, after a new U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The seven-to-two decision sides with the Trump administration, by upholding an exemption to the Affordable Care Act requirement that health insurers cover birth control without co-pays. The decision means employers and universities can refuse to offer contraceptive health care in insurance policies by citing religious or moral objections.

Supporters say it’s a win for religious freedom, but Mallory Schwarz - executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri - contends it’s discriminatory.

“This decision jeopardizes health-care access for hundreds of thousands of Missourians who already face systemic obstacles to accessing a range of reproductive health care,” says Schwarz. “This especially impacts people of color, communities of low-income, and LGBTQ folks.”

The court ruled that the Trump administration has the authority to require the exemptions, and sent the case back to the lower courts.

Schwarz sees the ruling as a blow to reproductive freedom for American women, and notes that access to full reproductive health care is also on the line in Missouri.

“Republican politicians in our state have spent decades enacting barrier after barrier between Missourians and affordable, accessible reproductive health care,” says Schwarz. “From birth control and family planning services, to medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion access and limiting criteria for Medicaid coverage.”

There are estimates that the rule change could cause at least 70,000 women to lose insurance coverage for their birth control within a year.

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