Birth Control Coverage Rules Blocked Nationwide

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AP - Mark Levy

A federal judge on Monday put a nationwide hold on Trump administration rules that allow more employers to opt out of providing women with no-cost birth control.

U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Philadelphia agreed with a lawsuit originally filed by Pennsylvania, citing the potential harm to states should the rules be enforced.

Numerous citizens could lose contraceptive coverage, Beetlestone wrote, resulting in the increased use of state-funded contraceptive services, as well as increased costs to state services from unintended pregnancies.

The rules, scheduled to take effect Monday, would change a mandate under 2010's Affordable Care Act by allowing more employers, including publicly traded companies, to opt out of providing no-cost contraceptive coverage to women by claiming religious objections. Some private employers could also now object on moral grounds.

Pennsylvania's attorney general, Josh Shapiro, called the court ruling a "victory for the health and economic independence of women" and the rejection of a Trump administration move to violate a federal law that requires insurers to cover the services.

"Congress hasn't changed that law, and the president can't simply ignore it with an illegal rule," Shapiro said.

New Jersey later joined Pennsylvania in suing.

In issuing the injunction, Beetlestone wrote in her opinion that the states were likely to win their lawsuit's claims that Trump's administration violated procedural requirements for how regulations must be created and that the rules exceed the scope of authority under the Affordable Care Act.

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