Trump administration issues new contraceptive mandate with greater religious exemptions

Aaron Brown
October 7, 2017

NEW YORK ― President Donald Trump's administration issued a new rule Friday that allows all employers to opt out of including birth control in their health insurance plans for any moral or religious reason, rolling back the Obama-era requirement that guaranteed contraception coverage at no cost to 62 million women.

The Trump administration announced broad new exemptions to the Health and Human Services' contraceptive mandate on Friday, giving relief to religious nonprofits and others with deeply held religious or moral convictions regarding contraception.

The Trump administration is gearing up to revoke federal mandates requiring employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans.

The religious exemption to the Obamacare birth control mandate is a part of the executive order President Trump previously issued on religious freedom.

Repealing the act was one of Trump's most strident campaign promises.

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In expanding the exemption for employers, the Trump administration says there are many other sources of birth control.

The forthcoming roll-back could mean that hundreds of thousands of women who now don't have to pay for pills and devices could once again be asked to do so. Some of the cases reached the Supreme Court and were the object of nationwide attention, such as the Hobby Lobby ruling in 2014.

"Americans United for Life 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", AUL President and CEO Catherine Glenn Foster said in a statement. 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.

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Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Medina) said in a statement that birth control is essential healthcare.

The National Women's Law Center, a nonprofit advocacy group, has been preparing a lawsuit since last spring, when it learned that the Trump administration meant to rewrite the contraception coverage mandate.

The action by the Trump administration is nearly certain to spark fresh litigation. In listing health risks the administration said can be associated with the use of contraceptives, it says the mandate could promote "risky sexual behavior" among some teenagers and young adults.

Until now, religiously affiliated charities and family-owned companies had to sign a form saying they didn't want to provide coverage, triggering a process where someone else would step in and offer coverage for free contraception.

"It was really important for women to have a choice of the full range of contraceptive methods that were FDA-approved", said Alina Salganicoff, director of women's health policy for the Kaiser foundation.

"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".

It included a provision that permitted religious institutions to forego birth control coverage for their employees.

"It violates equal protection laws if they are treating women differently", said Borchelt.

"In our modern society, it is unconscionable that the religious - or moral - beliefs of a private, for-profit employer can dictate the kind of medical care that is available to an employee".

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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