California Judge Blocks Trump Administration Rules That Threatened To Take Away Free Birth Control
Every now and then, the system of checks and balances in the U.S. government comes through in a way that just makes you proud to be an American. On Sunday, a judge in California blocked the Trump administration rules that threatened to take away free birth control from women across the country. Citing a potential violation of federal law, U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam saw to it that women in 13 states and Washington D.C. would continue to receive cost-free birth control under their employer-provided health insurance.
The Affordable Care Act of 2010 included a stipulation that employers include contraception with no co-payments in their employee healthcare plans, according to USA Today. The only exception was for religious places of worship. But in 2017, the Trump Administration moved to broaden who could qualify for these exceptions, allowing non-religious organizations to claim "moral conviction" as cause for not providing their employees with contraception.
Nearly immediately after, the attorneys general — led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra — sued, claiming the new rules were legally invalid, according to ABC 7 News. And on Sunday, Gillian determined that the attorneys general had legal standing due to potential economic harm caused by the state having to cover the costs associated with a rise in unplanned pregnancies, Reuters reported.
Originally, the attorneys general asked for a nationwide injunction, but Gilliam limited his ruling to those states challenging the rules, according to USA Today. And while he did not reach a final decision in the case, Gilliam said that the rules were likely illegal. In a statement released on Sunday, Becerra explained how the rules violate federal law, according to The Washington Post:
The law couldn't be more clear — employers have no business interfering in women's healthcare decisions. Today's court ruling stops another attempt by the Trump Administration to trample on women's access to basic reproductive care. It's 2019, yet the Trump Administration is still trying to roll back women's rights. Our coalition will continue to fight to ensure women have access to the reproductive healthcare they are guaranteed under the law.
Becerra and his fellow attorneys general were looking to keep the rules from going into effect as scheduled on Monday, Reuters reported. One argument against the new rules — which the U.S. Department of Justice has described as "protect[ing] a narrow class of sincere religious and moral objectors from being forced to facilitate practices that conflict with their beliefs" — was that women would have no choice but to turn to state-funded family planning services and potentially experience accidental pregnancies. Gilliam stated that the Trump administration's changes to Obamacare contraceptive coverage would cost state governments. Governments would have to full the gaps in birth control coverage and pay the high health care costs associated with a rise in unintended pregnancies.
Gilliam said at a hearing on Friday that the rules would cause a "substantial number" of women to lose birth control coverage, leading to a "massive policy shift." Similarly, Erica Sackin, a spokesperson and the director of political communications for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told Everyday that women simply can't afford to lose their access to free birth control:
We've already seen this administration take direct aim at birth control, basic healthcare that 9 out of 10 women will use in their lifetime. Since Day One, the Trump-Pence administration has been doing all they can to control women's bodies and limit their access to healthcare, whether it's trying to prevent women from getting basic healthcare like birth control and cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood health centers, or allowing their bosses to prevent them from accessing birth control through their health insurance.
It is frankly refreshing to see Gilliam and the attorneys general taking a stand against the Trump administration's move to rob women of crucial coverage. Finally, some good news in the war on women's reproductive rights.
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