As Americans, we live in a country where men have the power to dictate how a woman should treat her own body. Behind closed doors, elected officials – 72% of whom are men – battle over the fate of women’s reproductive health. Women hold the minority vote within discussions completely concerning them. Without respecting the opinions of women, how are men able to decide what women choose to do with their bodies?
Recently, President Trump issued an act enabling businesses to opt-out of providing birth control to female employees with healthcare benefits, solely depending on the owner’s religious and moral beliefs. Executed by a man who has blatantly belittled and objectified women, this act validates Trump’s belief that the opinion of a woman holds zero value. If it truly did, hundreds of thousands of women would not have been so easily stripped of their own personal rights, placing absolute power into their boss’ hands.
Trump stated at the National Prayer Breakfast that the first priority of his administration will be to “preserve and protect our religious liberty.” Although new regulations enable businesses, nonprofits, and schools and universities to “protect” their own religious freedoms, this should not provide them with the authority to determine the behavior of other female individuals.
It sets up this notion that businesses are able to put their own religious beliefs ahead of the health and safety of their female employees, thus becoming a systematic effort to undermine women’s rights. With the defunding of Planned Parenthood and rollbacks on paid leave, it is clear that the administration is taking a direct attack against the core systematic protections available to women. Since these decisions primarily affect women and no changes have been set out against men, this becomes a more than a surface-level attack on women’s healthcare – it becomes a matter of discrimination.
According to Planned Parenthood, there are many benefits to birth control that helps to prevent or reduce pregnancy, acne, bone thinning, cysts in breasts or ovaries, ovarian cancers, iron deficiency, and PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Because of the contraceptive mandate, more than 55 million women have access to these benefits without co-payments, according to the National Women’s Law Center. However, new regulations could deeply strip women of these multiple benefits, which have been proven to lower abortion rates and chances of teen pregnancy, which are now at its lowest.
The new regulations of women’s health care is a direct assault on the women in this country. To say that a man has control over a woman’s body is a violation of basic human rights. The bottom line, dear Mr. President, is that a woman’s private body is not up for the public to discuss, nor is a woman’s rights up for a male-dominated system to decide.