Trump birth control coverage rules blocked nationwide

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.

Posted: Jan. 14, 2019 6:36 PM

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — 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.

The Department of Justice did not say whether it would appeal, saying only that it will “continue to vigorously defend religious liberty.” The Department of Health and Human Services said the rules affirm the administration’s commitment to upholding constitutional freedoms.

“No American should be forced to violate his or her own conscience in order to abide by the laws and regulations governing our health care system,” Health and Human Services Department spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said in a statement.

On Sunday, a federal judge in California blocked the rules from taking effect in the jurisdictions in the lawsuit before him. Those included California, New York and 11 other states along with Washington, D.C.

At issue is a requirement under former Democratic President Barack Obama’s health care law that birth control services be covered at no additional cost.

Obama officials included exemptions for religious organizations. But the administration of President Donald Trump, a Republican, sought to expand those exemptions and added “moral convictions” as a basis to opt out of providing birth control services.

The Justice Department has argued that the new rules “protect a narrow class of sincere religious and moral objectors from being forced to facilitate practices that conflict with their beliefs.”

Beetlestone had previously blocked an interim version of the rules in a December 2017 ruling. In November, the Trump administration rolled out a final version of the rule, prompting another challenge by states.

___

Associated Press writer Sudhin Thanawala in San Francisco contributed to this report.

Trending on AP News
New Democratic Kansas governor promises bipartisan approach
GOP rejected Obama's executive reach, but accepts Trump's
House GOP leader vows action against King over race remarks
by Taboola

Article Comments

Terre Haute
Overcast
62° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 62°
Robinson
Broken Clouds
67° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 67°
Indianapolis
Overcast
59° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 59°
Rockville
Overcast
62° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 62°
Casey
Overcast
59° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 59°
Brazil
Overcast
62° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 62°
Marshall
Overcast
62° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 62°
Sunny, but cooler
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Monday Afternoon Weather

Image

Vigo County elementary school evacuated after custodian smells gas

Image

Over 2,000 lbs of beef frank links products recalled by FSIS

Image

All You Need to Know for Monday

Image

Mostly sunny, cooler. High: 67°

Image

White Violet Center Farm Tour

Image

TH Humane Society in need of help

Image

Jasonville PD search for stolen Jeep

Image

Sunday Morning Weather Update

Image

Surviving the Color Run

WTHI Events