President Trump has officially rescinded President Barack Obama’s requirement that employers include birth-control coverage in their health insurance plans, allowing any employer to exempt themselves from covering birth control in their health insurance plans on moral or religious grounds.
In a highly anticipated rule published Friday, any employer, including colleges, universities, and health insurance companies, would be allowed to stop following the rule, a move that could potentially impact millions of women who now receive birth control with no co-payments
Employers will not have to file anything with the government to stop offering the birth-control coverage; instead, they simply have to notify their employees of the decision, according to officials.
“We should have space for organizations to live out their religious ideas and not face discrimination because of their religious ideas. That was the case beforehand, and that ends today,” said one HHS official.
A study commissioned by the Obama administration showed that more than 55 million women have access to birth control without co-payments because of the mandate.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) said they would consider legal action if the Trump administration rolled back the mandate.
“Today’s outrageous rules by the Trump Administration show callous disregard for women’s rights, health, and autonomy. By taking away women’s access to no-cost birth control coverage, the rules give employers a license to discriminate against women,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the NWLC.
“This will leave countless women without the critical birth control coverage they need to protect their health and economic security. We will take immediate legal steps to block these unfair and discriminatory rules.”
The Hill adds:
The rule released Friday follows an executive order signed by President Trump in April that instructed the Department of Health and Human Services and other departments to address “conscience-based objections” to the mandate, which faced strong opposition from religious schools, charitable organizations and priests and nuns.
Shortly after Trump’s executive order, former HHS Secretary Tom Price would take “action in short order to follow the president’s instruction to safeguard the deeply held religious beliefs of Americans who provide health insurance to their employees.”
The action is almost certain to prompt lawsuits from women’s right groups and supporters of the mandate.