The U.S Department of Health and Human Services released these rules and said “the change in rules will effect only a small fraction of women – around 120,000 nationally.
- Allowing any employer to opt against providing birth control coverage based on the employer’s religious beliefs.
- Provides an exemption for organizations and small businesses that object on the basis of moral conviction rather than religious belief.
These legal changes had started already including with a lawsuit filed on Friday by the American Civil Liberties Union.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, since contraception became a covered preventive benefit under Obamacare, the share of women employees in the U.S. who pay their own money for birth control pills has plunged to under 4 percent from 21 percent.
According to HHS in the statement, “The changes will not affect over 99.9 percent of the 165 million women in the United States. The impact for this exemptions is only for roughly 200 employers that have filed lawsuits based on religious or moral objections.
“No American should be forced to violate his or her own conscience in order to abide by the laws and regulations governing our health care system. Todays action’s affirm the Trump administration’s commitment to upholding the freedom afforded all Americans under our constitution”, Caitlin Oakley, Health and Human Services press secretary.
For now, it is still uncertain how Catholic hospitals and universities will respond to these rules – The Associated Press.
Right after this legal changed rules, Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood contrasted the decision. “The Trump administration just took direct aim at birth control coverage for 62 million women. This is unacceptable attack on basic health care that the vast majority of women rely on”, said on a statement.
According to ACLU “The Trump Administration is forcing woman to pay for their boss’s religious beliefs.”
Because of these reactions, Virginia State Attorney General Mark Herring said, he and some other attorneys general are discussing a possible legal response.
Herring said, “Today’s decision by Trump administration puts healthcare decisions in the hands of women’s employer, which is so demeaning, discriminatory, and dangerous that it’s hard to put it into words,” “We have been anticipating this awful idea and have already begun working with other states to evaluate any legal response that may be appropriate to protect our citizens’ private decisions and access to affordable healthcare.
On the other hand, these new exemptions are being praised as a major victory for religious conservatives, with the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops putting out a statement calling it a “return to common sense, long-standing federal practice and peaceful coexistence between church and state.
Conservative Family Research Council and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex have applauded these exemptions too and tweeted “The administration ended a policy that was repugnant to our country’s tradition of religious freedom.”