The day after midterm elections concluded, the Trump administration rolled out two final rules broadening exemptions for the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers provide women with insurance coverage for birth control.
> [T]he US Department of Health and Human Services has issued a final rule providing exemption from the contraceptive coverage mandate to entities that object to such coverage based on religious beliefs. The second final rule provides exemption to nonprofit organizations and small businesses that may have non-religious moral convictions to such coverage.
> These rules finalize interim rules that were issued last year and take effect 60 days after their publication in the Federal Register, according to the agency.
As expected, religious groups were pleased with the rules, while women’s advocacy groups vowed to challenge the rules in court.
> The conservative group Alliance Defending Freedom released a statement from Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor in response to the rules on Wednesday.
> "The beliefs that inspire Christian colleges and universities, as well as groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor, to serve their communities should be protected," Baylor said. "Through these regulations, President Trump kept his promise that people of faith wouldn't be bullied on his watch. At the same time, contraceptives will remain readily available to those who wish to use them."
In a statement, Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the nonprofit National Women's Law Center, called the rules “outrageous”:
> "The Trump Administration decided to finalize these outrageous rules, despite several pending lawsuits and two federal courts blocking them," Graves said.
> "It's clear that this Administration will stop at nothing to attack women's health care. By taking away access to no-cost birth control coverage, these rules try to give a license to virtually any employer, university, or health insurance provider to discriminate," she said. "But if the Administration thinks it can move these rules forward without a fight, they're wrong. Countless women depend on this critical birth control coverage for their health and economic stability -- and we will continue to fiercely defend them."
> Clare Coleman, president and CEO of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, a national organization representing publicly funded family planning providers and administrators, said in a statement Wednesday that the rules "could leave millions of women without access to birth control and reverse some of the important public health progress made under the Affordable Care Act in recent years," she said. "Family planning has been designated one of top ten public health achievements of the 21st century. It is baffling that the administration would support any policy that could diminish access to this essential preventive care."