Trump annuls mandatory contraception coverage

Lucy Bush
October 7, 2017

The Obamacare provision required almost all employers to include a wide range of birth control methods in their healthcare plans, ensuring 55 million American women-according to the National Women's Law Center-had access to birth control and other preventive services without out-of-pocket costs.

The rules published Friday in the Federal Register, the government's public archive of official documents, broaden the range of employers allowed to opt out of birth control insurance coverage if they have a "sincerely held religious or moral objection" to the practice.

The administration has estimated that some 200 employers who have already voiced objections to the Obama-era policy would qualify for the expanded opt-out, and that 120,000 women would be affected.

Health care providers and activists who oppose the new rules, however, say they could provide opportunities for many employers to end the coverage just to save money.

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The American Civil Liberties Union on Friday said it is filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration. "It is unacceptable for Missouri's congressional Republicans to stand idly by while the Trump administration attacks women's access to basic healthcare".

It took almost nine months to take action, but the Trump administration will finally act on its promise to undo the HHS contraception mandate and protect religious liberty.

Employers with religious or moral qualms will also be able to cover some birth control methods, and not others.

"Contraception is an essential component of health care", Davis said in a Friday press release.

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Requiring insurance plans to cover birth control imposes a "substantial burden" to the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and could promote "risky sexual behavior" among adolescents, the administration told reporters Thursday night. "Never, ever", President Donald Trump said at the time.

The National Women's Law Center - which estimates that in 2013 alone, the contraception requirement saved women $1.4 billion in oral contraceptive costs - has vowed to challenge the administration in court. The administration acknowledges that the law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, "does not provide protection for nonreligious, moral conscientious objections".

"HHS leaders under the current administration are focused on turning back the clock on women's health", said the organization's president, Dr. Haywood Brown. The U.S. Supreme Court sent several cases representing Christian colleges, ministries and businesses dealing with religious exemptions to the ObamaCare contraception and abortion drugs and devices mandate back to lower courts to get the sides to reach a compromise.

In one of the new rules, the Trump administration says that exemptions should be available to "nonreligious nonprofit organizations" like March for Life, which holds an annual march opposing abortion.

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Medical and legal groups immediately objected. That provision said employers aren't required to provide access to birth control, but women who sought contraception couldn't be denied access - nor would they have to pay for it - if they dealt directly with their insurance provider, essentially cutting their employer out of the process. 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.

Other reports by Info About Network

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