The news coming just minutes ago that the Trump administration has issued new regulations, through the Health and Human Services Department, that would widen the option for more employers to exempt themselves from the mandated contraception coverage of the Affordable Care Act. This provision of the law has been hotly debated and spawned several court cases as religious organizations and companies sought exemption from covering birth control in health insurance for employees because it stands against their religious beliefs.

The Washington Post reports on the change:

The Trump administration issued a rule Friday that sharply limits the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate, a move that could mean many American women would no longer have access to birth control free of charge.

The new regulation, issued by the Health and Human Services Department, allows a much broader group of employers and insurers to exempt themselves from covering contraceptives such as birth control pills on religious or moral grounds. The decision, anticipated from the Trump administration for months, is the latest twist in a seesawing legal and ideological fight that has surrounded this aspect of the 2010 health-care law nearly from the start.

Several religious groups, which battled the Obama administration for years over the controversial requirement, welcomed the action.

Women’s rights organizations and some medical professionals portrayed it as a blow to women’s health, warning that it could lead to a higher number of unintended pregnancies.

The provision had been the subject of several lawsuits back to 2014, with an eventual ruling that the mandate was illegal to impose on “closely held corporations” that cited a religious reason for opposing the mandate:

In the past several years, lawsuits have been filed by nuns, Catholic charities, hospitals and universities. Even now, litigation remains in several federal appeals courts.

One challenge was heard by the Supreme Court, and the justices ruled in 2014 that it was illegal to impose the mandate on “closely held corporations” such as Hobby Lobby, the craft store chain. Its Christian owners had objected to the idea of paying for several kinds of the birth control that must be covered.

As the Post notes, the move will draw praise from religious groups, and scorn from organizations which view this as a women’s rights issue. Here are some reactions from those opposed to the move:

With this new change by the Trump administration, and the Affordable Care Act still the law of the land, we’re likely headed back to court over the issue:

The new rule is almost certain to spark fresh litigation. The National Women’s Law Center — which estimates that in 2013 alone, the contraception requirement saved women $1.4 billion in oral contraceptive costs — has vowed to challenge the Trump administration in court. It plans to argue that the new policy amounts to sex discrimination, since it will disproportionately affect women. It also plans to allege religious discrimination, arguing that it will allow employers to impose their religious beliefs on employees.

Axios news reports that the new exemptions are broad:

Key points: These are broad exemptions.

-Allowing exemptions based on a “moral” objection is a big step. Previous exemptions and carve-outs were limited to employers’ religious beliefs.

-When the Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby should be able to get an exemption from the mandate, it limited its decision to companies that are closely controlled by a few people. Hobby Lobby, for example, already closed on Sundays and otherwise reflected the faith of its owners. These new rules will allow any company to seek an exemption.

The change from a “religious” objection to a “moral” objection is what will send this issues back to the courtroom. Judges will be tasked with deciding whether a “moral objection” can hold as much weight as a “religious objection.” I wouldn’t be surprised if a Federal judge puts a stay on this new regulation while the matter is litigated.


  1. To allow a company to deny benefits to employees based on either “religious” beliefs, or “moral” beliefs is just a way to break down employee’s hard earned rights.

    What is the difference in an employer having a moral or religious belief against providing birth control, and having those same convictions about healthcare. After all God decides who lives and dies, who is sick and who is well. Providing healthcare coverage flies in the face of “God’s plan”. What if an employer has a moral objection to paying minimum wage, or overtime? Are they then free to ignore those laws too?
    If I go into Hobby Lobby and tell them that my religion forbids paying sales tax, will not charge me sales tax? If I tell them that my religion preaches that no one should take a profit from anyone, will they sell me goods at their cost. Of I tell them that no one should be turned away needing anything, will they give me their goods free? Of course not, they are in business to make money, and that is all that this is about. They don’t want to provide birth control because of the extra cost.
    Is maximizing your profit at the cost of your employees is a protected moral or religious right?

    Why is it that both the established church and the Republican party are on a crusade to take rights away from people rather than protecting and helping their fellow man and woman? Both teach and preach hatred against anyone who is different, by birth or choice than they.

  2. Allowing any company (or persons) to deny lawful benefits to any employee based on their “religious” or “moral” beliefs is unconscionable. It is an immoral and ungodly stance to cover up the fact that it puts more money in their pockets.

    David Green, owner of Hobby Lobby, has a net worth of 5.1 billion, built on the backs of predominately female workers. He certainly has a right to express his personal viewpoints on women’s rights but to force his female employees to abide by his personal beliefs is an unfair practice.

    In 2016, the present pope, Francis granted priests the authority to forgive the sin of abortion for women who ask forgiveness. Since the 1960’s the Catholic Church has approved of the Rhythm System as a method of birth control. The catholic churches in America are very slow in transmitting these beliefs to their members.

    Republicans, who do not believe in birth control, are striving to bring more unwanted and uncared for children into their world yet they are not willing to fed and clothe them.

    The Chip’s program which covers 8.4 million children across the nation has not been renewed. In Texas it covers prenatal care to about 36,000 pregnant women yearly. About 340,000 children ineligible for Medicaid are covered under CHIP, and another 249,000 Texan children on Medicaid benefit from CHIP. Together, Medicaid and CHIP cover about 45 percent of all children in the state of Texas.

    Republican efforts to drastically overhaul health care this year have elevated levels of uncertainty about the program’s future and increased the likelihood that it will be altered if it is reauthorized.

  3. A corporation is not religious, an employer may be. And they have zero right to be forcing their personal, subjective beliefs on others. They have their freedom to express and indulge in their religion freely, but what they cannot do is to force that belief on anyone else denying them their equal right to their own freedom of religion or lack thereof.

    Only when this is understood and religion is enjoyed as subjectively as musical taste will we finally have freedom of, and necessarily from, religion. You cannot have true freedom of religion without freedom from religion.

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