- On Monday, a federal judge in Pennsylvania blocked Trump administration rules that would allow some employers to drop birth control coverage for religious or moral reasons, the Associated Press reported.
- The decision came one day after a federal judge in California blocked the rules from taking effect in 13 states and Washington, D.C.
- The rules were released in November 2018 were scheduled to take effect on January 14.
On Monday, a federal judge in Pennsylvania blocked Trump administration rules that would allow some employers to drop birth control coverage for religious or moral reasons, the Associated Press reported.
Judge Wendy Beetlestone issued a nationwide injunction against the rules, blocking them in all 50 states, according to the AP. The rules had been set to take effect on January 14.
The nationwide injunction came just one day after Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr., a federal judge in California, ordered a preliminary injunction against the rules in Washington, D.C. and13 states.
Before Beetlestone’s decision was announced, Mara Gandal-Powers, director of birth control access and senior counsel for reproductive rights and health at the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) told INSIDER she was “optimistic that we will end up with a nationwide injunction.”
The Trump administration’s rules would have allowed more employers to drop birth control coverage
Under the Obama administration, FDA-approved birth control was defined as a preventive service that was required to be covered at no cost. This is sometimes called the “birth control mandate.”
Initially, religious houses of worship were the only employers that were fully exempt for the birth control mandate, Vox reported in 2017, and today, some religious employers, like houses of worship, don’t have to cover contraception if they have religious objections to doing so, according to the Healthcare.gov website.
But in October 2017, the Trump administration released two “interim final rules” that opened up the exemption option to employers who had religious or moral objections to providing birth control coverage. After those interim rules were blocked by federal courts, the Trump administration released similar “final rules” in November 2018.
The first rule would allow employers and institutes of higher education to stop providing birth control coverage on the basis of religious beliefs; the second would allow them to do so if they have moral objections. (There are some exceptions: Government entities wouldn’t be eligible to use either rule to stop providing birth control coverage, and publicly-traded businesses can’t use the moral exemption, though they would be able to use the religious one).
“The law couldn’t be more clear – employers have no business interfering in women’s healthcare decisions,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who led the California case,said in a statement Sunday. “Today’s court ruling stops another attempt by the Trump Administration to trample on women’s access to basic reproductive care.”
When reached for comment, Caitlin Oakley, a spokesperson for the US Department of Health and Human Services, told INSIDER that the rules “affirm the Trump Administration’s commitment to upholding the freedoms afforded all Americans under our Constitution.”
“No American should be forced to violate his or her own conscience in order to abide by the laws and regulations governing our healthcare system,” she added.
This post has been updated to reflect reports of a Pennsylvania court issuing a nationwide injunction against the Trump administration’s rules.
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