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Reproductive rights activists opposed to Donald Trump’s nominee for health secretary have hit upon a potent rallying cry: the cost of birth control.

The campaign stems from a remark made back in 2012 by Georgia Congressman Tom Price, who this week was nominated to run Trump’s Department of Heath and Human Services. Back then, Price had joined other Republicans in a fierce fight to block an Obamacare mandate that insurers give women free access to contraception.

Price said the rule was unfair to religious employers who considered it immoral for birth control to be covered under the health plans offered to their workers —and also, wholly unnecessary, because no woman he knew of had ever had trouble getting contraception when she needed it.


“Bring me one woman who has been left behind. Bring me one. There’s not one,” Price said at the time, in an interview that was captured on video and has been widely circulated.

Now that Price stands poised to shape health care coverage for millions, both activist organizations and individual women are answering his “bring me one” challenge — by bringing him their stories.


His 2012 comment “very simply and clearly shows that Congressman Price is really out of touch with the reality of women’s lives,” said Amy Friedrich-Karnik, senior federal policy adviser for the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Or as NARAL Pro-Choice America spokeswoman Kaylie Hanson Long put it: “That is completely contrary to the real and lived experiences of women prior to the Affordable Care Act.”

Birth control costs range widely, but generally run anywhere from $120 a year for the least expensive pills to $1,000 for an IUD. A survey commissioned by Planned Parenthood in 2010 found that 1 in 3 women had struggled to pay for prescription birth control at some point in their lives.

“This notion that there’s no woman being left behind — when I watched the video, I actually yelled out to the computer, ‘I could show you a thousand [women],'” said Dr. Geetha Narayani Fink, an OB-GYN who’s a member of Physicians for Reproductive Health.

Price has tried to overturn the Affordable Care Act as a congressman, and if confirmed, he’s expected to implement the Trump administration’s plans to dismantle the health care law. But Price wouldn’t even need to repeal the legislation to get rid of no-cost birth control: That would just require a bureaucratic maneuver, without a vote in Congress, though that would likely take months.

Price’s voting record raises other red flags as well for reproductive rights advocates.

Last year, the Republican lawmaker (who is also a former orthopedic surgeon) voted against legislation that would protect employees from being fired for using contraception or seeking an abortion. And in 2013, he voted for a budget resolution to be amended so that insurers could opt out of covering birth control for women for religious reasons.

Price has also been a tenacious opponent of abortion and has co-sponsored legislation that would assign “personhood” status to a fetus.

Neither Price’s congressional office nor Trump’s transition team returned requests for comment.

Despite widely acknowledged problems with Obamacare, the contraception mandate has proved to be a boon for many women.

A study published last year found that the share of insured women who got hormonal IUDs without any copays more than doubled, to 87 percent, between 2012 and 2014. Another study last year estimated that women covered by one private health insurer saved an average of $248 for an IUD and $255 annually for contraceptive pills after the rule went into effect.

And a study published in September found that Midwestern women who did not have to shell out copays for birth control were more likely to use it — and to choose more effective methods — than those who had to pay out of pocket.

  • Obamacare doesn’t give “free access to contraception,” it gives free contraception. It is the only thing provided for free by Obamacare, and it isn’t even a therapeutic drug. No lifesaving drug, no drug that is essential to maintaining health is free, only contraception pills. I’m all for contraception for all who want it. If it were up to me, we would have single-payer, first-dollar, universal health care coverage and nobody would have prescription copays, but making contraception the only prescription with no out-of-pocket charge was a dumb to do. It invited all this anti-Obamacare idiocy.

  • I had no idea that the “stay-out-my business limited government” Republicans could be so vicious about personal choices made by women that protect their lives and make reproductive planning a part of wellness care. People often forget that women DIE from pregnancy–at many times greater rates than from abortion. Since 2014 there have been 600 maternal deaths in Texas–the highest in the US. That would be 38.9/100,000 women. In the Netherlands the number is 2.9/100,000. Texas has systematically closed clinics which provide access to care for poor women. Access to contraception prevents abortion AND maternal deaths. Why is it that conservatives want women to have neither contraception nor abortion???

    • As many Catholics know, this method works very well until it doesn’t, and it requires couples to abstain or use a backup method for more than a week per month. The failure rate hovers between 7% and 18% a year, I believe. Hormonal methods are more than 99% effective and even condoms provide better protection, less work, and more freedom. Try natural family planning only if you won’t mind getting pregnant sooner or later.

    • Be aware that FAMB method is NOT reliable if a woman is above a certain age (but still fertile) or has any irregularity with her cycle. For example, women with PCOS cannot use FAMB successfully.

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