Trump guts Obamacare's contraceptive mandate

University of Arizona Center for Rural Health Navigators Maria Losoya gives people information and answers questions about health insurance in Tucson, Arizona U.S. REUTERS  Caitlin O'Hara

The Trump administration is relaxing an Obama-era rule requiring most employer-offered health insurance plans to include no-cost coverage for birth control.

The new rules, according to the Times report, allow an exemption for any business or insurance provider that, based on "moral convictions" or "sincerely held religious beliefs", objects to covering contraception.

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans have to cover birth control for women at no cost, a rule referred to as the birth control mandate.

In May, Trump signed a decree on religious liberty ordering his administration to take account of objections of conscience on matters of contraception.

More than 55 million us women have access to birth control without co-payments because of the contraceptive coverage mandate, according to the Times.

The change fulfills a promise Trump made in May to the Catholic religious order The Little Sisters of the Poor in a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.




That fight has been the focus of many court hearings around the nation, and already has been in the U.S. Supreme Court five times.

"This will leave countless women without the critical birth control coverage they need to protect their health and economic security". Real Alternatives lost a suit against the mandate at the Third Circuit Court in August, which ruled that their pro-life mission did not merit a religious exemption from the mandate. Under the Justice Department guidelines, this could expand to allowing employers to hire in accordance with their religious beliefs and prohibit denying federal contracts to entities based on religious beliefs.

Penny Nance, of Concerned Women for America, added, "One of my fondest memories of working with President Trump so far is sitting in the Rose Garden as he stood strongly for religious liberty and asked the Little Sisters of the Poor to come on stage with him".

In a statement, Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, said her organization "applauds the actions of the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that the right of conscientious employers and employees not to participate in or provide abortion-causing drugs is protected in law". In addition, these rules offer employers, universities, and insurers a seemingly unworkable option of offering any individual who objects to contraceptive coverage a separate insurance plan excluding such coverage; it is unclear how this provision will be implemented.

The controversial mandate was at the heart of the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case when the religious employer argued that being required to provide birth control to their employees violated their religious freedom. "President Trump's decision to destroy that progress is unconscionable and defies the reality that women face every day", DeLauro said.

In response to the new rule, Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at Becket and lead attorney for the Little Sisters of the Poor said "HHS has issued a balanced rule that respects all sides - it keeps the contraceptive mandate in place for most employers and now provides a religious exemption". "This decision is just the latest in a series of moves the Trump Administration has made to undermine and sabotage our health care system". A news release from the organization said the interim rules violate the Establishment Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution by allowing religiously motivated discrimination against women.

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