The following comes from a Jan. 13 story on Politico.

A federal judge in California blocked a Trump administration rule on contraception just hours before it was to go into effect Monday. It would have allowed virtually any employer to refuse to cover workers’ birth control by citing religious or moral objections.

U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam, Jr. ruled the policy would cause harm to the Democratic states suing over the rules, and he issued an order staying the rules from going into effect while the lawsuit proceeds. His temporary block is limited to just the 13 states plus the District of Columbia involved in the lawsuit. However it’s possible that a court in Pennsylvania, considering a similar request for an injunction, could issue a broader national order.

The new rules mark the Trump administration’s second attempt to narrow the Obamacare-related requirement that employers must provide FDA-approved contraception in the employee health plan at no cost. The first attempt was halted in 2017 after courts found the administration tried to make the change without giving the public the opportunity to weigh in. Houses of worship and closely-held private companies with religious objections are currently exempted from the birth control coverage mandate; the Trump administration is seeking to make the exemptions much broader.

The states in the California case argued that people will suffer irreparable harm. HHS estimated that between 6,400 and 127,000 women will lose coverage of contraceptives under the rule, but reproductive rights advocates argued the change could affect millions of people.

The birth control mandate had been controversial from the outset, under the Obama administration. The Trump administration’s effort to narrow it reignited a fierce battle, and quickly prompted new legal challenges.

The states sought nationwide injunctions, both on administrative grounds and by arguing that the rule would undercut the health care law and unconstitutionally discriminate against women….


Mark Rienzi, president of Becket, a legal group representing a Catholic religious order of nuns intervening in the case, said today’s ruling threatens “the rights of religious women like the Little Sisters of the Poor.”