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  •  Supporters of contraception rally in Washington on March 23, 2016

    Supporters of contraception rally in Washington on March 23, 2016 | Photo: Reuters

The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Women’s Law Center both said they will sue the federal government.

The Trump administration will allow companies and organizations to opt out of paying for birth control for women based on religious and moral beliefs 

“This is a landmark day for religious liberty. Under the Obama administration, this constitutional right was seriously eroded,” Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said in reaction to President Donald Trump’s ruling today.

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The Affordable Care Act, ACA, enacted in 2010 during the Obama administration, mandates that employers provide contraceptive coverage to women employees. 

A provision in the ACA allowed religious institutions to be exempt from providing employees birth control coverage. Today’s ruling expands that provision to companies and organizations across the U.S. 

The impact the ruling will have on women's coverage in the U.S. is unknown, however the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, DHHS, which administers the exemption applications, released a statement today estimating that only the 200 entities that had previously filed lawsuits to deny contraceptive health care coverage, would apply for new exemption. 

In May, Trump made an executive order, Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty, that the DHHS “shall consider issuing amended regulations … to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate promulgated” in the ACA. The ruling panders to Trump’s ultra conservative religious base that voted him into office last November.

Several organizations and politicians have highly criticized the decision. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, ACOG, released a statement today saying it “is extremely disappointed” with the ruling that, “will negatively impact the health of women and their families by limiting access to essential preventive care.” Adding that the contraceptive coverage under the ACA had reduced “unintended pregnancies” over the past several years, and this ruling will reverse this trend. The organization ended by saying, “All Americans deserve the ability to make personal health care decisions without intrusion from their employers or the government.”


Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said, “The Trump administration just took direct aim at birth control coverage for 62 million women. … With this rule in place, any employer could decide that their employees no longer have health insurance coverage for birth control.”

Diedra Penner of Washington state, told the BBC that the ACA allowed her access to birth control to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome. She said, "Without the birth control mandate I don't know how much the treatment would cost.” Birth control is proven to help prevent pregnancy, bone thinning, endometrial and ovarian cancers, and iron deficiency in women, according to Planned Parenthood.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Women’s Law Center both said they will sue the federal government. 

 

 

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