Currently, under the Affordable Care Act, most employers are mandated to cover their employees’ contraceptives through company health care plans, but a forthcoming Supreme Court decision could upend that obligation. The Supreme Court this term is set to rule on two Trump administration rules that would allow employers and universities to deny health coverage for birth control because of “religious” or “moral” objections. To get ahead of that ruling, Planned Parenthood is asking companies to become a “Business for BC” and pledge that they will guarantee employee birth control coverage, whether or not they are required to do so by law.
Twelve national companies have made that pledge so far: Amalgamated Bank, Argent, Bad Robot Productions, CREDO Mobile, Female Quotient, Jaya Apparel Group, hims & hers, Postmates, the Helm, the Lede Company, Trillium Asset Management, and Tumblr, representing a promise to more than 600,000 employees in industries from retail and banking to media and venture capital. Now Planned Parenthood is launching a campaign called “Business for Birth Control 2020” to secure more commitments.
Planned Parenthood is asking companies to commit to this coverage even if it is no longer required by law, not only because birth control is essential, she says, but because this is a business and human rights issue as well. With access to the pill, women were able to have control over family planning and invest in their careers. Research has found that for women born from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s, access to birth control accounts for one-third of their total wage gains since the 1960s. The pill allowed them to get more work experience and more education.
This fight for reliable contraception is not new—the owners of Hobby Lobby notoriously objected to having a health insurance plan that covered birth control. But especially now, with a national spotlight on deep-rooted racial inequalities and at a time when many companies are internally addressing their own systemic issues that have hampered advancement and inclusion, Planned Parenthood says it’s more important than ever that companies make this commitment to their employees.
More than two-thirds of Black women believe the ability to plan if and when they have children is important to their ability to pursue their career goals, and yet disproportionate barriers to health care affect that access. Nearly 40% of Black women between 18 and 44 say they can’t afford more than $10 a month for birth control, were they to have to pay out of pocket. Affordable birth control not only improves a woman’s own welfare, from her education to her earning power—it provides family and societal gains as well; family planning programs in the U.S. have been linked to a drop in the share of children and adults in poverty.
“Birth control helps address systemic inequities and advance inclusion in the workplace,” says Nadia Khamis, director of corporate engagement at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in an email. “Companies have an important opportunity to use their policies, advocacy and influence to support birth control access.”