US President Donald Trump's administration has annulled an Obamacare provision that obliged employer health plans to pay for contraception. The Obama administration's push for the law resulted in an avalanche of lawsuits filed against the action by right-wing and religious organizations.
The action by the Trump administration is nearly certain to spark fresh litigation. It added that the exemptions will likely only have an impact for the roughly 200 employers that have filed lawsuits based on religious or moral objections. It was swiftly condemned by women's health care advocates.
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The original rule is still in place, but under policies announced today, non-profits and for-profit employers that are closely-held - and even some publicly-traded for-profits - will be exempt from the mandate, if they can demonstrate a religiously-based objection to the mandate's demands.
"Donald Trump's latest dictate is a flawless execution of his passions: controlling women and robbing people of healthcare", said NARAL president Ilyse Hogue.
"By taking away women's access to no-cost birth control coverage, the rules give employers a license to discriminate against women", said Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women's Law Center.
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The Family Research Council, through its president, Tony Perkins, said, "After eight years of the federal government's relentless assault on the First Amendment, the Trump administration has taken concrete steps today that will once again erect a bulwark of protection around American's First Freedom - religious freedom".
Employers who argued the "contraceptive mandate" infringed on their religious liberties lodged U.S. Supreme Court challenges, winning exemptions in cases brought by the Hobby Lobby craft store chain and the Little Sisters of the Poor religious order.
"HHS leaders under the current administration are focused on turning back the clock on women's health", said the organization's president, Dr. Haywood Brown.
The new rules will go into effect after they are published on the Federal Register, according to the Times. The court ordered both sides into negotiations for dealing with the legitimate religious objections of nuns to birth control, but the new regulations will certainly cover their moral objections if not their religious beliefs. "It's a good way to protect those Americans who want to be able to provide quality health insurance, but can't in good conscience provide contraceptives". The religious exemption would cover a religious affiliated nonprofit employer, such as a church, school or charity.
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