The White House has cut into regulations under the Affordable Care Act that employers cover certain women’s contraception.
Right before the weekend, President Donald Trump’s administration cut into the Affordable Care Act’s requirements for birth control insurance from employer sponsored health plans. This step was taken as a follow-through with a promise Trump had made to his conservative Christian supporters during his campaign.
The new rules will allow companies and nonprofits to register moral objections in order to receive an exemption.
The updated birth control insurance regulations were issued by the Department of Health and Human Services. They allow businesses and nonprofit organizations to file complaints on religious or moral grounds against having to provide health plans covering birth control. This will allow certain groups to obtain an exemption from the Affordable Care Act mandate requiring employers to provide the contraceptives coverage free of co-payments as a part of their employee health plan.
Congressional Republicans and conservative Christian activists immediately praised the birth control insurance law changes.
At the same time, Democrats and other employee rights groups criticized the change. At this early juncture, it is not yet known how many companies and organizations intend to file their objections in order to obtain an exemption on religious grounds. That said, some have revealed heavy doubt that any large companies intend to try to file for exemption.
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Hours after the announcement, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration in a San Francisco federal court. The intention was to attempt to stop the rule on the grounds that, among other issues, it was in direct violations of the requirement of church and state in the United States Constitution.
Not long afterward, the states of California and Massachusetts also filed lawsuits regarding the changes to the birth control insurance law. Democratic state attorneys general from sixteen additional states have all threatened to take their own legal actions.
“This is a landmark day for religious liberty. Under the Obama administration, this constitutional right was seriously eroded,” said Paul Ryan, Speaker of the Republican House of Representatives. On the other hand, Cecile Richards, President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said “The Trump administration just took direct aim at birth control coverage for 62 million women.”