Friday, 20 September, 2019

These judges just blocked Trump’s attack on birth control access

A woman holds a blister pack with contraceptive pills A woman holds a blister pack with contraceptive pills. Science
Patty Aguilar | 17 January, 2019, 22:43

"The final rules affirm the Trump Administration's commitment to upholding the freedoms afforded all Americans under our Constitution". 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.

U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Philadelphia imposed a nationwide injunction Monday which has wider effect than a similar ruling issued Sunday by a federal judge in California.

Democratic-led states successfully challenged the Trump administration's interim rules in federal district court.

Trump's new policy would also allow publicly traded companies to opt out of contraceptive coverage based on religious or moral grounds, The Associated Press reported.

The rules were issued by the US Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor and Treasury and were set to take effect on Monday.

"President Trump's unlawful and harmful birth control rules will go into effect in most states today - but not Washington, thanks to our legal challenge", Ferguson said.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat who initiated the lawsuit in the fall of 2017, praised Beetlestone's decision to stay the policy.

District Court Judge Haywood Gilliam on Sunday granted a preliminary injunction to block the rule in all 13 states and Washington, D.C.

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Another study by Penn State researchers found an increase in the proportion of women using long-acting birth control such as IUDs or contraceptive implants, which tend to be most effective at preventing unwanted pregnancies.

The ACA provides that all qualified health plans, including from employers, must cover a full range of contraceptive treatments with zero co-pay, but this rule has always infuriated religious nonprofits and organizations - particularly the inclusion of the morning-after pill and intrauterine devices, which some people wrongly believe can induce abortion of an implanted zygote.

"Because of this injunction, women in 13 states can still access birth control under the ACA", Dr. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood, wrote on Twitter. Affordable, accessible birth control is why the USA has reached the lowest unintended pregnancy rate in 30 years.

The Obama administration had required many employers to provide free contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act, which requires larger employers to provide coverage of preventive health services and screenings for women.

While the prior regulations provided an automatic, seamless mechanism for employees of religious objectors to continue to receive contraceptive coverage under an "accommodation" process, the final rules make this process optional, so employers can simply refuse to comply with the ACA.

Under the Obama administration, a fairly limited number of employers - mainly churches and some other religious entities - could qualify for an exemption. Because of the injunction Gilliam ordered Sunday, none of those states will need to comply with the Trump administration's expanded exemptions until the case is resolved.

Beetlestone had previously blocked an interim version of the rules in a December 2017 ruling.

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