RELEASE: New Data Show More Than Half of Birth Control Exemptions Are For-Profit Companies

Washington, D.C. — With the Trump administration expected any day now to announce a sweeping rule undermining the Affordable Care Act provision that gave 55 million women access to no-copay birth control, the Center for American Progress has obtained new data regarding corporations that have requested an exemption from the birth control benefit.

CAP submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for all records of religious accommodation requests submitted to the agency under the ACA’s contraceptive mandate. The exemptions were granted following the Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which ruled closely held for-profit corporations could deny health care services based on religious beliefs. The requests were made between January 2014 to March 2016.

“This data gives us insight into the types of companies that request this exemption and the impact the leaked interim final rule could have on millions of women. The data suggest that Trump’s new rule could open up the floodgates for nearly anyone to force women to either pay out of pocket or navigate hurdles to obtaining additional coverage for contraception. President Donald Trump and Secretary Tom Price are, in effect, saying to women that any employer’s personal views can decide whether or not you get birth control,” said Jamila Taylor, senior fellow at CAP.

“The data show that the majority of requesting entities are for-profit corporations, raising alarm that the broad, leaked IFR would be a catalyst for employers at nearly any company to deny care based on their own moral beliefs. These types of proposals are part of a larger strategy by the Trump administration to enable discrimination and restrict access to vital services through overly broad religious exemptions,” said Laura Durso, vice president of the LGBT Research and Communications Project.

The FOIA request was submitted following a leaked interim final rule showing the Trump administration was primed to issue broad guidance that would allow nearly any employer to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees on the basis of a religious or merely moral objection.

The data show that:

  • Of the 45 entities requesting an accommodation, 53 percent were for-profit corporations.
  • For-profit corporations included companies from industries not traditionally thought of as faith-based entities, including: agriculture and forestry; apparel; construction; electrical equipment; food service; garden supplies and landscaping; home and office furnishings; hospital management; human resources; industrial machinery; information technology; manufacturing; packaging and distribution; plastics processing; publishing; real estate; tax services; telecommunications; and wholesale trade.
  • Companies ranged in size from less than 50 employees to more than 1,000 employees, and at least five of these companies are subsidiaries of larger corporations.
  • The requests target the most effective and expensive forms of birth control, such as intrauterine devices (IUD’s), incorrectly labeling them “abortifacients.”

Click here to read “Who Seeks Religious Accommodations to Providing Contraceptive Coverage?” by Laura E. Durso, Sharita Gruberg, Jamila Taylor, and Theresa Chalhoub.

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Devon Kearns at 202.741.6290or dkearns@americanprogress.org.