On Friday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued new rules that rolled back the Obamacare requirement that forced employers to include birth control coverage in health insurance plans for employees.
The new policy took effect immediately and now businesses don’t have to follow the birth control mandate if there is a "sincerely held religious or moral objection.”
The former healthcare law forced businesses to offer insurance plans that cover all FDA-approved birth control methods at no-cost, including the morning-after pill, which is often referred to as the “abortion drug.”
"The United States has a long history of providing conscience protections in the regulation of health care for entities and individuals with objections based on religious beliefs or moral convictions," wrote the White House in the new rules.
Since back in June, when an alleged draft of the new birth control rule was leaked to the press, Women’s health groups have been preparing to take legal action and have claimed that Trump has raged a war on women.
The American Civil Liberties Union said on Friday that it will be filing a lawsuit against new rules.
"We are preparing to see the government in court," said Brigitte Amiri, a senior attorney for the ACLU.
“Today’s outrageous rules by the Trump Administration show callous disregard for women’s rights, health, and autonomy,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center. "By taking away women’s access to no-cost birth control coverage, the rules give employers a license to discriminate against women. We will take immediate legal steps to block these unfair and discriminatory rules.”
Groups also claim that it will limit the birth control options available by employers.
"It was really important for women to have a choice of the full range of contraceptive methods that were FDA-approved. This will now make it up to the employer whether or not to cover contraception, and whether to cover all methods,” said Alina Salganicoff, director of women's health policy for the Kaiser foundation. "It opens up a lot of opportunities for employers to make choices about the coverage that women have right now."
But the Trump administration argues that these rules are needed to protect companies and owners who were forced by the government to fund activities that go against their moral or religious beliefs.
Not to mention, Health and Human Services officials said that “99.9% of women” in the U.S. won’t be impacted by the new rule.
The agency only anticipates that 120,000 women will be affected. This number is based on the 200 entities that have had legal disputes over birth control coverage.
"I can't imagine that many employers are going to be willing to certify that they have a moral objection to standard birth control methods," said Dan Mendelson, president of the consulting firm Avalere Health.
It’s difficult to provide an accurate estimate to how many women will be impacted.
Tens of thousands could be affected by the new policy, but most companies have no objections to offering birth control through healthcare plans.
"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," said Caitlin Oakley, Health and Human Services spokeswoman in a statement. "Today's actions affirm the Trump administration's commitment to upholding the freedoms afforded all Americans under our Constitution."
Several applauded Trump’s move to restore religious liberty, which was not protected in this case under the Obama administration.
"The attempts by the previous administration to provide some protections were inadequate," said another senior HHS official. "They are being rebuffed here."
This new rule is a move by the president to keep his campaign promise to protect religious freedom.
“The administration issued two rules — one outlining how an employer could claim an exemption for religious beliefs, the other outlining an exemption for sincerely held moral convictions — on the same day Attorney General Jeff Sessions called for sweeping protections for religious freedom in a government-wide memo that could have far-reaching implications,” writes Politico.
Author’s note: Why should the owners of companies who see abortion as murdering children be FORCED to contribute to the activity? Shouldn’t religious beliefs be protected? After all, the First Amendment says that there is no prohibition on the free exercise of religion.
Editor's note: This was hugely controversial when Obama forced it down the throats of business owners whose religious convictions were against it. Fortunately Trump has a better vision of the Constitution.