Trump Administration Poised to Roll Back Federal Birth Control Coverage Mandate

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07 October, 2017

The rules would let a broad range of employers - including nonprofits, private firms and publicly traded companies - stop offering contraceptives through their health insurance plans if they have a "sincerely held religious or moral objection", senior agency officials said on a call about the implementation and enforcement of the new rules. Under the new rules, companies and insurers need only cite a moral or religious objection in order to opt out of the Obama-era federal rule requiring birth control be covered for free for all women.

The new rule issued Friday by the Trump administration admits that's what Obama was doing, and establishes a pathway to a permanent exemption for faith groups.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says in a statement: "This administration's contempt for women reaches a new low with this appalling decision to enable employers and health plans to deny women basic coverage for contraception".

The new policy seems likely to engender further legal action from birth control advocates, who say it threatens birth control coverage for 62 million women.

The rule is the result of multiple challenges to the Obamacare demand that employers provide contraceptives to their employees which were brought by religious organizations ranging from Christian colleges to the most prominent of the cases, involving the Little Sisters of the Poor.

"It improves the health of women, children and families as well as communities overall; reduces maternal mortality; and enhances economic stability for women and their families".

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The Supreme Court previous year ordered the Obama administration and religiously affiliated organizations, such as universities and charities, to reach agreement on an accommodation that would let employees of such groups have access to no-cost contraception.

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

Trump first hinted at the changes when he invited the 178-year-old religious order Little Sisters of the Poor, who had won a Supreme Court ruling in 2016 exempting them from providing birth control, to join him at the White House Rose Garden early May for the presentation of his executive order on "promoting free speech and religious liberties".

At a time when Trump finds himself embattled on many fronts, the two directives - issued nearly simultaneously on Friday - demonstrated the president's eagerness to retain the loyalty of social conservatives who make up a key part of his base.

They argue this new interim rule is unconstitutional, violating the Establish Clause and the Equal Protection. The religious exemption would cover a religious affiliated nonprofit employer, such as a church, school or charity. The second rule extends the same provision to organizations and small businesses that have objections "on the basis of moral conviction which is not based in any particular religious belief". "President Trump promised that this administration would 'lead by example on religious liberty, ' and he is delivering on that promise". "If you don't want to provide it, you don't have to provide it", he said.

"Any move to decrease access to these vital services would have damaging effects on public health and women's health", said Haywood Brown, director of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.


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