The Trump administration will allow virtually any employer to claim a religious or moral objection to Obamacare’s birth control coverage mandate under a sweeping rollback announced Friday.
The new policies, which take effect immediately, reignite a fierce battle over one of the health care law’s most controversial provisions and quickly drew legal challenges. The requirement to provide FDA-approved contraception at no cost was long opposed by religious groups that heavily favored Trump, and has been wrapped up in litigation for more than five years.
“The United States has a long history of providing conscience protections in the regulation of health care for entities and individuals with objections based on religious beliefs or moral convictions,” the administration wrote in new rules.
The American Civil Liberties Union said it will file a lawsuit on Friday to block the long-anticipated rules from the Trump administration, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra also announced plans to sue. Women’s health groups for months have been preparing lawsuits against the new policies, which they say will enable employers to deny their workers access to needed care.
The administration issued two rules — one outlining how an employer could claim an exemption for religious beliefs, the other outlining an exemption for sincerely held moral convictions — on the same day Attorney General Jeff Sessions called for sweeping protections for religious freedom in a government-wide memo that could have far-reaching implications.
“Today President Trump delivered a huge victory for conscience rights and religious liberty in America,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser in a statement. “No longer will Catholic nuns who care for the elderly poor be forced by the government to provide abortion-inducing drugs in their health care plans.”
Full story at Politico.