President Donald Trump today is set to roll back the Obamacare birth control mandate that forces Christians to pay for abortion causing drugs for their employees in their health care plan.
The controversial mandate has twice made it to the Supreme Court where the nation’s highest court sided with both Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor and their attempts to not be forced to pay for abortion causing drugs in violation of their consciences.
The court ruled that Hobby Lobby and other similar businesses were protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which states that an individual’s religious expression shouldn’t be “substantially burdened” by a law unless there is a “compelling government interest.”
In the Hobby Lobby ruling, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the ACA’s contraception rule “would put these merchants to a difficult choice: either give up the right to seek judicial protection of their religious liberty or forgo the benefits, available to their competitors, of operating as corporations.”
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.
The new rules argue that the Affordable Cart 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.
The action, according to a Republican briefed Thursday on the regulation, will allow a much broader group of employers and insurers to exempt themselves from covering contraceptives such as birth control pills on religious or moral grounds. It represents the latest twist in a seesawing legal and ideological fight that has surrounded this aspect of the 2010 health-care law nearly from the start.
The rule change, first reported by the New York Times, will be among the recent moves by President Trump to dismantle initiatives enacted under the Obama administration. It will fulfill a crucial promise Trump made as a candidate to appeal to social conservatives and in May when he signed an executive order in the Rose Garden to expand religious liberty. (WaPo)
According to TownHall, the new rules provide significantly expanded religious exemptions 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 then. “That is sensible, fair, and in keeping with the president’s promise to the Little Sisters and other religious groups serving the poor.”