Published: Thu, January 17, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

US judge partially blocks Trump administration birth control rules

US judge partially blocks Trump administration birth control rules

Trump administration rules allowing more employers to opt out of providing women with no-cost birth control can not be enforced anywhere in the nation, a federal judge ruled Monday.

"The Trump administration's new contraception rule is yet another attack on every woman's right to make decisions about her own body with her doctor", Renda explained in a statement.

The decision, which may be appealed, ramps up the culture war triggered by President Donald Trump's attempt to extend "religious freedom" rights from churches to companies - a move that in 2017 triggered litigation backed by rights groups and Democratic-led states.

Update: Pennsylvania District Judge Wendy Beetlestone has temporarily blocked the Trump administration's rollback of the ACA's birth control mandate nationwide. Her ruling came less than 24 hours after a federal district court judge in California issued a more limited stay covering 13 states and the District of Columbia.

The rules, set to take effect Monday, allow closely held businesses and faith-based charities and universities employers to refuse to insure forms of birth control they find objectionable by claiming "sincerely held religious beliefs" or a moral objection.

On Sunday, a federal judge in California blocked the rules from taking effect in the jurisdictions in the lawsuit before him. Beetlestone cited the costs the states would shoulder to provide contraceptive coverage to women themselves if the rules took effect.

There is still a chance that a nationwide injunction could be issued in a separate case by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and his New Jersey counterpart, Gurbir Grewal.

Trump administration rules that allow more employers to opt out of providing women with no-cost birth control pose "potentially dire" financial and public health consequences for 13 states and Washington, D.C., a US judge said in a decision blocking the rules from taking effect in those jurisdictions.

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However, Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. of the U.S. District Court in Oakland, California, granted a request by 13 states and the District of Columbia for a preliminary injunction, writing that the new rules "are almost identical to" the ones that he had previously blocked.

"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 Trump administration wants to expand exemptions for employers' religious objections to also allow exemptions based on "conscience rights".

"The law couldn't be more clear - employers have no business interfering in women's healthcare decisions", Becerra said in a statement Sunday evening.

Courts objected to the new rules on the exemptions, which prompted a slight amendment by the administration. The FDA-approved birth control is to be offered at no cost.

The Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic order of religious women dedicated to caring for the elderly poor has been in court because of the contraceptive mandate since 2013, as Townhall reported.

In the meantime, HHS in November issued a final rule, similar in most respects to the interim one.

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