Pro-abortion politicians in at least four states are suing President Donald Trump over his decision to provide broad exemptions to religious employers who object to paying for birth control, including forms that may cause abortions, in their employee health plans.
The AP reports Pennsylvania is the latest to file a lawsuit against the changes to the Obamacare HHS mandate. State Attorney General Josh Shapiro made the announcement outside a Planned Parenthood abortion facility Wednesday in Philadelphia.
Shapiro argued that Trump’s new rules are too broad. He claimed the rules violate the First and Fifth Amendments because they put employers’ religious rights over women’s and deny women equal protection under the law, Patch reports.
“Now, as a result of these new rules, virtually any employer can refuse to provide coverage for contraceptive services for their employees, who will now have to pay more for health care,” Shapiro said.
But even Shapiro admitted that the HHS mandate under pro-abortion President Barack Obama was “extremely narrow.” It was so narrow, in fact, that even a group of nuns, the Little Sisters of the Poor, had to fight the whole way to the U.S. Supreme Court for relief.
Other states that are suing Trump include California, Massachusetts and Washington, according to the AP.
The Trump administration says the new rules are motivated by “our desire to bring to a close the more than five years of litigation” over the pro-abortion mandate. These include cases by the Little Sister of the Poor, Hobby Lobby and countless other religious organizations and businesses.
The new rules argue that the Affordable Care Act does not mandate coverage of birth control, which could mean hundreds of thousands of women would no longer have access to the contraceptive without a copay.
According to TownHall, the new rules provide significantly expanded religious exemptions that the Obama administration refused to offer.
One of the new rules, according to the Times, provides an exemption to employers or insurers that object to covering birth control “based on its sincerely held religious beliefs,” while another rule gives an exemption to employers with “moral convictions” against covering birth control.
The new rules state that since all religious objections to the contraceptive coverage mandate cannot be satisfied, “it is necessary and appropriate to provide the expanded exemptions.”
“Application of the mandate to entities with sincerely held religious objections to it does not serve a compelling governmental interest,” it says.
The Trump administration also notes that there are other means of acquiring birth control.
“The government,” it says, “already engages in dozens of programs that subsidize contraception for the low-income women” who are most at risk of unplanned pregnancies.
Pro-life advocates applauded the new rules when they were first proposed in May.
“At long last, the United States government has acknowledged that people can get contraceptives without forcing nuns to provide them,” Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty told USA Today at the time. “That is sensible, fair, and in keeping with the president’s promise to the Little Sisters and other religious groups serving the poor.”
Earlier this week, President Trump also signed an executive order to help lower health insurance costs and expand choices for consumers who are stuck with few options under Obamacare. With rising costs for most Americans under the failed Obamacare plan, the executive order could provide some fiscal relief for them.
Trump said the order is “starting that process” to repeal Obamacare. It will be the “first steps to providing millions of Americans with Obamacare relief,” Trump said.