Update: Another group has filed a complaint against the Trump administration over its decision to soften the Obamacare birth control mandate, which will allow employers to stop covering contraception as part of their employees' health insurance plans. The Center for Reproductive Rights sued on behalf of the group Medical Students for Choice on Tuesday.
"Contraception has been pivotal for women’s health, reproductive freedom, and economic security, and the Trump administration’s actions stand to rob women of their ability to control their lives and futures," Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement provided to Refinery29. "Restricting a woman’s ability to decide whether and when to have children by denying access to contraception is unacceptable, discriminatory, and unconstitutional."
This story was originally published on October 9, 2017.
Several states and legal groups are suing the Trump administration over its decision to partially roll back the Obamacare contraception mandate, which will allow employers to opt out of covering birth control.
Under the Obama-era rule, employers were required to offer birth control coverage in their health insurance plans without a copay. Exceptions were made for churches, for-profit organizations, and charities that raised religious or moral-based objections to covering contraception. Thanks to the mandate, about 55 million women in the U.S. were able to obtain birth control without copayments. But on Friday, the Health and Human Services Department issued a new regulation widely expanding the types of employers that can raise moral and religious objections, which will make it easier for them to stop offering contraception coverage.
Just hours after the new regulation came into effect, several lawsuits followed. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued on behalf of the Service Employees International Union-United Health Care Workers West (SEIU-UHW), one of the largest hospital workers' unions in the West. The California and Massachusetts Democratic attorney generals also filed lawsuits against the Trump administration. Other groups, such as the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the National Women’s Law Center, are prepared to sue soon.
“The Trump administration is forcing women to pay for their boss’ religious beliefs,” ACLU senior staff attorney Brigitte Amiri said in a statement. “We’re filing this lawsuit because the federal government cannot authorize discrimination against women in the name of religion or otherwise.”
Loosening the rule is the Trump administration and Republican party's latest effort to chip away at women's healthcare rights and equality in the workplace. Just last week, President Trump signaled he would sign into law a 20-week abortion ban if the bill comes to his desk. And Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a religious-liberty directive instructing agencies to do everything they can to accommodate those who claim their religious freedoms are being violated, even if it means overriding anti-discrimination protections for women and minorities.