President Donald Trump has regularly come under fire for seeming to explicitly target and try to dismantle former president Barack Obama’s legacy. Now Trump reportedly has two more Obama era policies on his chopping block: the birth control coverage mandate and the Iran nuclear deal.
THE ATTACK ON BIRTH CONTROL
The Trump administration says the Affordable Care Act does not explicitly require coverage of contraceptives, and will reverse the federal requirement for employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. The move vastly expands exemptions for employers that cite moral or religious objections. The new rules could be issued as soon as today and would go into effect as soon as they are on display at the office of the Federal Register. They could cause hundreds of thousands of women nationwide to lose birth control benefits they now receive at no cost under the Affordable Care Act.
In the new rules, the Trump administration says “it is necessary and appropriate to provide the expanded exemptions,” and notes that applying the birth control mandate “to entities with sincerely held religious objections to it does not serve a compelling governmental interest.” The mandate also imposes a “substantial burden” on the free exercise of religion by certain employers with religious objections. The Trump administration will not require employers claiming exemptions to contraceptive coverage to “file notices or certifications” with the government, though they will be required to inform employees of changes in coverage.
“Nonreligious nonprofit organizations” will also receive exemptions, a rule that would benefit organizations like March for Life, which holds an annual march opposing abortion. (Matthew Bowman, an attorney at the Department of Health and Human Services, “represented March for Life in 2014 when he was a lawyer at the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal advocacy group” and is one of the “principal authors” of the rules, according to The New York Times.
Although many doctors, including obstetricians and gynecologists, have said that contraceptives have generally been beneficial to women’s health, the Trump administration maintains that the mandate could promote “risky sexual behavior” among some teenagers and young adults. The administration further notes that “the government already engages in dozens of programs that subsidize contraception for the low-income women” who are most at risk for unintended pregnancy.
The move is certain to spark fresh litigation from women’s rights advocates and public health groups. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, savings on the birth control pill have accounted for “63% of the drop in average out-of-pocket spending on retail drugs since 2012.”
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