Earlier in the month, the Trump administration rolled back the Obama-era federal requirement that employers have to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. On Friday, the University of Notre Dame became one of the first employers to take advantage of this change, sending emails to employees informing them that they would no longer get access to no-cost contraceptives. Faculty and staff will be cut off on December 31; students lose the benefit in August 2018.
Notre Dame—a Catholic school—has long opposed the mandate. The school offered contraceptives through a third party, which allowed it to maintain its religious objections to the mandate. The ACLU is now suing the administration over the new rule and a Notre Dame student is one of the plaintiffs in the suit. According to Vox, thousands of Notre Dame employees and students could be affected by the change:
Notre Dame has 5,825 employees and 12,393 students, according to a university spokesperson. Ninety percent of employees are covered by the university insurance plan and may be affected by the policy change (though, of course, not all use birth control). Among students, 3,020 — 705 undergraduates and 2,315 graduate and professional students — are covered by the university plan.
Trump’s actions are not only an assault on women’s health, but also on their economic state—according to one study, the Obama-era mandate saved women an estimated $1.4 billion in 2013 alone. As Bryce Covert pointed out recently in The New York Times, access to birth control also affects women’s ability to work and go to school:
Birth control is still playing the economic role that it did in the 1970s. About half of women who use it say they do so to complete education or to get and keep a job. Contraception is still increasing the share of women who get educated and get paid work, particularly prestigious jobs.
Notre Dame is among the first employers to drop coverage, but it certainly won’t be the last. And Trump’s war on women has only just begun.