Donald Trump has selected Tom Price (R-Ga), chairman of the House Budget Committee and a former orthopedic surgeon, to be his secretary of Health and Human Services. This is bad news for Obamacare and the millions of people–in particular people in the disabled community–who rely on it as a lifeline–and, as Price’s previous comments suggest, for women. As ThinkProgress reported in 2012, Price evidently could not find “one woman” who was unable to afford birth control. Indeed, he demanded sultan-like that someone bring such a woman to him. To Price, a woman’s access to birth control–which means access to control over her life, her fate, her family’s fate, and, frankly, the fate of humanity–tramples on religious freedom and religious liberty:
We asked Price, who is a medical doctor by trade, what he would say to low-income women who can’t afford birth control if it’s not covered by their insurance policies. Price responded by denying their very existence. “Bring me one woman who has been left behind,” he demanded. “Bring me one. There’s not one.”
KEYES: Obviously one of the main sticking points is whether or not contraception coverage is going to be covered health insurance plans and at hospitals and whether or not they’re going to be able to pay for it, especially for low-income women. Where do we leave these women if this rule is rescinded?
PRICE: Bring me one woman who has been left behind. Bring me one. There’s not one. The fact of the matter is, this is a trampling of religious freedom and religious liberty in this country. The president does not have the power to say that your First Amendment rights go away. That’s wrong.
So yeah, he’s a doctor who thinks that a preventive medicine that literally prevents damage to women (pregnancy is extremely hard on a woman’s health and wellbeing), prevents unwanted pregnancy, allows for rational family planning in ways that those who espouse free markets ought to embrace, and means every child is a loved and wanted child … somehow takes away his first amendment rights. Mmmmkay.
For those who need a refresher on the First Amendment, here is the text:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Of course, objections to birth control are religious. Arguing against coverage of this preventive care by insurance for which women pay is abridging by way of religion a woman’s right to access healthcare. No one’s forcing Price to use birth control, and placing obstacles in the way of access to birth control as a special case in healthcare coverage solely on the basis of religious belief is indeed trampling all over first amendment rights. Of women.