The federal government is trying, once again, to allow religious employers to refuse to cover contraception in their employee’s health insurance plans. The time limit for voicing opinion on this proposed change closes on December 5, 2017.   This proposed rule change might also take away contraceptive coverage in Medicaid, Medicare, and plans obtained via the Affordable Care Act.

Here is the comment I wrote to make it clear that I oppose allowing religious employers/organizations to refuse to cover contraceptives.

Information on the rule change can be found here.  Please add your comment to oppose this change before December 5, 2017.  Feel free to use some of what I wrote in my comment in the comment you write.

This blog will be updated as this goes through the courts.

I oppose the rule that would allow religious exemptions and accommodations for coverage of birth control. One of the most important things about America is the separation of church and state. As such, it is un-American to allow religious employers and/or organizations to impose their religious beliefs upon their employees (who may not share those beliefs or practice that religion). It is obvious that allowing religious employers/organizations to opt-out of coverage for contraception is discriminatory because this exemption would impose a financial hardship on women that is not imposed on men. Gender-based discrimination is un-American.

Many, if not all, of the religious groups who want to prevent their female employees from having birth control covered in their health insurance are anti-abortion. The best way to prevent abortion is to make sure that women have continued affordable access, and health insurance coverage for, contraception. Not every type of contraception is best for every woman, so it is vital that coverage for all forms of contraception be covered by health insurance.

In addition to preventing unwanted pregnancy, contraception is used for a variety of other medical reasons. Those reasons include: easing menstrual cramps, controlling heavy menstrual bleeding, regulating a woman’s period (which could help her determine when she is fertile and able to conceive if she wants to have a baby). Birth control lowers the risk of endometrial cancer and ovarian cancers, suppresses ovulation the can lead to ovarian cysts, and controls the pain of endometriosis. Contraception can help clear up acne, eliminate menstrual migraines, and prevent pre-menopausal women from experiencing hot flashes and other symptoms.

I oppose the rule that would take away coverage for contraceptives from women who use Medicaid or Medicare. I oppose the rule that would take away the protection of contraceptive coverage in health insurance that women currently have thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Women who have Medicaid are eligible because they are low-income. If Medicaid stops covering contraception, that would mean these low income women would have absolutely no way to afford birth control. That will lead to unwanted pregnancies. Many women who are eligible for Medicare are eligible because they are disabled and cannot work. These women would not be able to afford contraception unless it is covered by Medicare. Women across the nation who don’t qualify for these programs would face a financial burden if their health insurance suddenly stopped covering contraception.

In summary: It is vitally important that contraceptive coverage – of all FDA approved forms of contraception – continue to be covered in Medicaid, Medicare, health insurance obtained through the Affordable Care Act Marketplaces, and health insurance obtained from a woman’s employer. Don’t allow religious individuals or organizations to impose their religious beliefs upon people who do not practice that religion, and in doing so, take away women’s access to health care. It would be un-American to allow one religious group to override access to vital health care and medicine to their fellow Americans. Do not allow a religious group to discriminate against women by removing access to contraception.

A Little Bit of Background

October 5, 2017: The New York Times posted an article titled “Trump Administration Set to Roll Back Birth Control Mandate”.  The article pointed out that the Trump administration was poised to roll back the federal requirement for employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans.  It appeared that the rule change could have gone into affect as early as the very next day.  From the article:

…One new rule offers an exemption to any employer or insurer that objects to covering contraceptive services “based on its sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Another regulation offers a new exemption to employers that have “moral convictions” against covering contraceptives…

The article points out that both rules would take effect “as soon as they are on display at the office of the Federal Register.”

October 6, 2017: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra posted a press release on the official State of California Attorney General website.  It was titled: “Attorney General Becerra to Challenge Trump Administration Over Contraceptive Regulations, Federal Lawsuit in California”.  From the press release:

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Trump-Pence Administration’s new rules that will deny access to contraceptives for millions of women and their families by allowing employers to interfere with healthcare. The rules jeopardize the Affordable Care Act requirement that employers provide coverage of birth control for employees and their covered dependents with no out-of-pocket costs.  To date, 62 million women across the country have benefits from these reproductive health services.

“Donald Trump wants businesses and corporations to control family planning decisions rather than a woman in consultation with her doctor. These anti-woman health regulations prove once again that the Trump Administration is willing to trample on people’s rights,” said Attorney General Becerra. “What group of Americans will they target next? Will they allow businesses to deny you cancer treatment? Will they exclude you from insurance coverage because of a pre-existing health condition? The California Department of Justice will fight to protect every woman’s right to healthcare, including reproductive healthcare. We’ll see the Trump Administration in court.”

Attorney General Becerra filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California….

October 6, 2017: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) posted information on the ACLU website titled: “ACLU Filing Lawsuit Challenging Trump Administration Contraceptive Coverage Rule”. From the information:

The American Civil Liberties Union is filing a lawsuit today against the Trump Administration challenging interim rules issued by the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies that would allow nearly all employers to deny their employees insurance coverage for contraception if the employer has a religious or moral objection.

The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of the members of the ACLU and Service Employment International Union – United Health Care Workers West (SEIU-UHW) who are at risk of losing contraceptive coverage because of where they work or where they go to school…

…In the lawsuit, the ACLU argues that the interim rules violate the Establishment Clause, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution by authorizing and promoting religiously motivated and other discrimination against women seeking reproductive health care. The ACLU is joined by co-counsel Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP as well as the ACLU of Northern California, Southern California, and San Diego in bringing forward the lawsuit…

The ACLU embedded a digital copy of the lawsuit onto their website.  The lawsuit is titled: American Civil Liberties Union Et. Al V. Wright Et. Al – Complaint.

October 6, 2017: Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey posted a press release on the official Massachusetts Attorney General website titled: “AG Healey Sues the Trump Administration for Roll back of Contraception Coverage Mandate”. From the press release:

Looking to protect the rights of millions of women in Massachusetts and across the country, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy today sued the Trump administration for rolling back a requirement under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans.

The complaint, filed today in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, seeks to stop the federal government from enforcing a new regulatory rule that would authorize any employer with a religious or moral objection to contraception to block their employees, and their employees’ dependents, from receiving health insurance coverage for contraceptive care and services…

…Since the ACA was enacted in 2010, employers who provide health insurance coverage to their employees have been required to include coverage for contraception, at no cost to the employee, with narrow exceptions for religious non-profit organizations and for closely held, for-profit companies. As a result of the ACA, more than 55 million women in the United States, including 1.4 million in Massachusetts, have access to birth control with no out-of-pocket costs.

The complaint estimates that the new rule would affect thousands of Massachusetts employees, as well as their many dependents. Among other things, many women are likely to turn to MassHealth – the state’s Medicaid plan – for coverage, which will place a financial burden on the state.

Today’s complaint alleges that the new rule is unconstitutional by allowing the federal government to endorse certain religious beliefs over a woman’s right to make choices about her own health care.

The complaint also alleges that the rule discriminates against women and denies equal protection under the law by allowing employers to assert religious beliefs as a justification for denying critical benefits, while leaving coverage for men unchanged. Additionally, the Trump Administration is taking way at the right to contraceptive coverage – a right that millions of women rely on – without any opportunity for public comment and without a careful review of the issue, in violation of federal law…

There is a PDF of the lawsuit online.  The plaintiff is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The defendants are: United States Department of Health and Human Services, Donald Wright, in his official capacity as Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services; United States Department of the Treasury, Stephen Mnuchin, in his official capacity as Secretary of the Treasury; United States Department of Labor, and R. Alexander Acosta, in his official capacity as Secretary of Labor.

October 6, 2017: The New York Times posted an article titled “Trump Administration Rolls Back Birth Control Mandate.”  It was rolled out at the same time that the Trump Administration that could be used to nullify the civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.  From the article:

…At the same time, the Department of Health and Human Services issued two rules rolling back a federal requirement that employers must include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans.  The rules offer an exemption to any employer that objects to covering contraception services on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.

More than 55 million women have access to birth control without co-payments because of the contraceptive coverage mandate, according to a study commissioned by the Obama administration.  Under the new regulations, hundreds of thousands of women could lose benefits.

…The rules issued in Friday prompted more lawsuits and threats of lawsuits.  The attorney general of Massachusetts, Maura Healey and the attorney General of California, Xavier Becerra, filed lawsuits to block the new rules, which took effect immediately.

October 9, 2017: Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson posted a news release on the official Washington State Office of the Attorney General website.  The news release was titled: “AG Ferguson Sues to Block Trump Rules Eroding Contraception Access” From the news release:

Attorney General Bob Ferguson today filed a lawsuit in federal court to block the Trump Administration’s new rules undermining women’s access to contraception.

The new rules would allow any company to deny coverage for contraception services to its female employees based on religious grounds.  Additionally, certain types of organizations would be able to deny this coverage on moral grounds.

If allowed to go forward, President Trump’s rules could have a significant impact on the more than 1.5 million Washington workers and their dependents who receive insurance through their employer’s self-funded plan. One study by the Center for American Progress found that contraception costs can generally exceed $1,000 a year without insurance coverage.

Some Washington women who currently use contraception may be denied no-cost coverage and be forced to turn to state-funded programs to receive the care they need.  State-funded reproductive health-services helped more than 90,000 patients in 2016 alone.  More than three-quarters of those patients were women who used contraception, saving the state an estimated $160 million in maternal and birth-related costs, according to a report from the Washington State Department of Health…

…The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, alleges that the new rules violate the U.S. Constitution, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Civil Rights Act and the Administrative Procedure Act…

October 13, 2017: Colorado’s Own Channel 2 News posted an article titled: “Denver teacher suing Trump over rollback of birth control coverage” From the article:

A Denver private school teacher is suing President Donald Trump over his recent administrative rule changes allowing private employers to deny birth control insurance coverage.

In the federal lawsuit, Jessica Campbell says she relies on birth control for medical reasons including to prevent ovarian cysts.

Her attorney, Alan Kennedy-Shaffer says Trump’s rule change violates women’s rights…

…”This gives private employers a license to discriminate against women,” said Campbell’s Attorney, Kennedy-Shaffer, who filed the lawsuit in federal court on Thursday.

“By going after birth control, Trump is undermining women’s equality, women’s economic security and for our client and others for which it is medically necessary,” he said.

The lawsuit, he says, is not just on behalf of Campbell but on behalf of millions of women like her who rely on contraceptives for a variety of medical reasons…

…Kennedy-Shaffer is seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction to prevent Trump and his administration from enforcing the new rules.

The challenge to the contraceptive coverage rollback is the first of its kind filed in Colorado…

October 31, 2017: The South Bend Tribune posted an article titled: “Notre Dame to end no-cost contraceptive coverage for employees.”  From the article:

University of Notre Dame employees will no longer be eligible for no-cost contraception coverage through a third party starting Jan. 1, 2018.

The change also applies to students covered under the university’s health care plan.

Faculty and staff members received an email from the university’s human resources department on Friday notifying them of the change, which was prompted by the Trump administration’s recent decision to roll back a requirement under the Affordable Care Act that employers must include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans.

Graduate students with Notre Dame insurance received a similar email from the university health center announcing their access to no-cost contraceptives through Aetna Student Health would end August 14, 2018, which is the end of the plan year…

…In recent years, employees have had access to no-cost contraceptives and contraceptive services through a third party and funded by the federal government, which allowed Notre Dame to maintain its religious opposition to the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act.

The services had been managed and provided by third-party administrator Meritain Health and prescription benefit manager OptumRX.

Notre Dame had filed a federal lawsuit challenging the mandate on religious grounds…

…The case was voluntarily dismissed Oct. 17 at the agreement of the parties, according to federal court documents.

Employees have until the end of the year to make alternative arrangements….

November 8, 2017: The Atlantic posted an article titled: “Why Notre Dame Reversed Course on Contraception” It was written by Emma Green. From the article:

Notre Dame announced on Tuesday that faculty, students, and staff will be able to obtain coverage for contraceptives through their university-sponsored insurance plans. The surprise decision is a reversal of the school’s announcement last week that it would discontinue birth-control coverage in light of new religious-freedom protections put in place by the Trump administration.

The Catholic university was one of a handful of religious non-profits that sued the government over the birth-control mandate in the Affordable Care Act, citing moral objections to the opt-out procedure offered by the Obama administration. After half a decade of litigation and debate, ultimately leading to a victory for Notre Dame’s cause, the university has voluntarily chosen to embrace a status quo that seems to undermine its original legal position and interpretation of Catholic dogma. Although the administration claims it reversed course out of respect for the diversity of its community, it’s not clear why it wouldn’t have taken faculty and student objections into account year ago. Meanwhile, religious-freedom advocates see the university’s move as a setback to for their cause, because it potentially casts doubt on the sincerity and depth of moral objections to birth control…

December 12, 2017:  Reuters reported that California sought a nationwide temporary injunction to block the Trump Administration’s contraceptive rules.  U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of California Haywood Stirling Gilliam, Jr., (who was nominated by former President Barack Obama) heard the case.  He has not yet made a ruling.  California said it expected a surge in unwanted pregnancies as a result of the new rules as women lose contraceptive coverage – and that could affect public services.

The rules allow businesses or non-profit organizations use religious or moral objections to obtain an exemption from the “Obamacare” law’s mandate that most employers must provide contraceptive coverage in health insurance with no co-payment.  Attorneys for California argued that the Trump Administration acted too quickly and did not follow proper notice procedures when issuing the new rules.  Justice Department lawyer Ethan Davis argued that the Trump Administration had to move quickly because of “legal uncertainty over who is covered by the Obamacare mandates.”

Judge Haywood Stirling Gilliam Jr. did not agree with the Justice Department lawyer’s reasoning.  The judge said “I don’t know why it couldn’t be done consistent with the standard notice and comment period.”  He said the Trump Administration acted too quickly and did not follow proper notice procedures when issuing the new rules.

December 14, 2017: BuzzFeed News reported that U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Wendy Bettlestone (who was nominated by former President Barack Obama) heard arguments in a case brought by the Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.  He asked the court for a preliminary injunction on the Trump Administration’s rules that would allow entities with “religious or moral” opposition to birth control to stop providing coverage.

Judge Wendy Bettlestone granted Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s request for a preliminary injunction.  That injunction will stay in place as the trials continue.  That means the new rule cannot be enforced right now.  It also means that the “Obamacare” requirement that employers provide no-cost contraception in their employee’s health insurance plans is still a requirement.

The BuzzFeed News article has Judge Wendy Bettlestone’s ruling embedded in it.  I am going to post a few key parts of it here.  (The new rules are referred to as IFRs, and Pennsylvania is referred to as the Commonwealth.)

…The new IFRs will likely inflict a direct injury upon the Commonwealth by imposing substantial financial burden on State coffers.  Specifically, the Commonwealth will have to increase its expenditures for State and local programs providing contraceptive services.  This is not a speculative harm.  As the Defendants themselves noted in issuing one of the New IFRs, “there are multiple Federal, State and local programs that provide free or subsidized contraceptives for low-income women”… As more women residents of the Commonwealth are deprived of contraceptive services through their insurance plans and turn to these State and local programs, the Commonwealth will likely make great expenditures to ensure adequate care. And although Defendants point out that the Commonwealth has not yet identified a woman resident of Pennsylvania who has lost contraceptive coverage as a result of the IFRs, the Commonwealth need not sit idly by and wait for fiscal harm to befall it….As the New IFRs themselves estimate, they will cause at least 31,700 women to lose contraceptive coverage….

….Skipping ahead ….

…Last, the Agencies asserted in the New IFRs that notice and comment was unnecessary because the Agencies considered past comments and requested post-issuance comments.  The Agencies received multiple rounds of comments on the first set of interim final regulations in 2010, on the interim final regulations in 2011, on the proposed changes to the religious employer exemption in 2012 and 2013, and on the modifications to the Accommodation Process in 2015, and on the RFI issued in July 2016.  And the Agencies received over 54,000 public comments in response to the July 2016 RFI which sought ways to expand the Accommodation Process.

Defendants cite no case, and research has not disclosed any, finding that notice and comment is unnecessary where an agency has received ample commentary on its prior public interpretations of the same law.  In fact, the significance of this issue and the outpouring of public comments reflect the opposite: the overwhelming public interest demonstrates that notice and comment is critical….

…Skipping ahead again…

…There are several reasons why post-issuance comments do not comply with the notice and comment provisions of the APA.  First, there is nothing in the APA that provides for post-issuance commentary.  Second, participants are less likely to influence agency action in later stages of the agency decision-making process.  This is especially the case where an agency has already issued interim rules which suggest that it has decided what federal policy should be.  Post-issuance commentary does not ameliorate the need for notice and comment because by the time agencies issue interim rules, they are less likely to heed public input….

…Skipping ahead again…

…It bears mentioning, at this time, the remarkable breadth of the New IFRs.  They are the proverbial exception that swallows the rule.  The New IFRs permit various entities, on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions, to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage – coverage that, under the text of the ACA as interpreted by the HRSA in August 2011, is supposedly mandatory.  The Religious Exemption Rule allows all non-profit and for-profit entities, whether closely held or publicly traded, to deny contraceptive coverage based on sincerely held religious beliefs. The Moral Exemption Rule allows any non-profit or for-profit organization that is not publicly traded to deny contraceptive coverage for its employees for any sincerely held moral conviction.  This means that boards of closely head corporations can vote, or their executives can decide, to deny contraceptive coverage for the corporation’s women employees not just for religious reasons but also for any inchoate – albeit sincerely held – moral reason they can articulate. Who determines whether the expressed moral reason is sincere or not, or, for that matter, whether it falls within the bounds of morality or is merely a preference choice, is not found within the terms of the Moral Exception Rule.  If one assumes that it is the Agency Defendants, – or, indeed, any agency – then the Rule has conjured up a world where a government entity is empowered to impose its own version of morality on each one of us.  That cannot be right. It “run[s] afoul of this country’s vast history of legislative protections that single out and safeguard religious freedom but not moral philosophy”….

A simple hypothetical illustrates the insidious effect of the Moral Exception Rule.  It would allow an employer with a sincerely held moral conviction that women do not have a place in the workplace to simply stop providing contraceptive coverage.  And, it may do so in an effort to impose its normative construct regarding a woman’s place in the world on its workforce, confident that it would find solid support for that decision in the Moral Exemption Rule.  It is difficult to comprehend a rule that does more to undermine the Contraceptive Mandate or that intrudes more into the lives of women.

…skipping ahead again…

…The Commonwealth’s concern is that absent available cost-effective contraception, women will either forgo contraception entirely or choose cheaper but less effective methods – individual choices which will result in an increase in unintended pregnancies. That, in turn, will inflict economic harm on the Commonwealth because unintended pregnancies are more likely to impose additional costs on Pennsylvania’s State-funded health programs….

…skipping ahead again…

…The third factor that the Commonwealth must show is that the balance of the equities tips in favor of granting a preliminary injunction.  “Balancing the equities” is jurisprudential “jargon for choosing between conflicting public interests”… Here, Congress has already struck the balance: Its passage of the Women’s Health Amendment was to bridge the significant gender gap in healthcare costs between men and women.  Senator Feinstein explained that “[w]omen of childbearing age spend 68 percent more in out-of-pocket health care costs than men.”… And part of this problem stems from unintended pregnancies – an issue faced only by women.  Senator Durbin explained that the purpose of the Women’s Health Amendment was to “expand health insurance coverage to the vast majority of [the 17 million women of reproductive age in the United States who are uninsured and] … reduce unintended pregnancies”… Where, as here, Congress itself has struck the balance, has defined the weight to be given the competing interests, a court of equity is not justified in ignoring that pronouncement under the guise of exercising equitable discretion.”…

…skipping ahead one last time…

Conclusion

Plaintiff, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, has demonstrated that it has met all four factors necessary to obtain a preliminary injunction.  In this case, the Commonwealth is likely to succeed on the merits of its two APA claims; the Commonwealth is likely to suffer serious and irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction; the balance of the equities tips in favor of granting an injunction, and the public interest favors granting it as well.  After weighing these four factors, as stated above, the Court concludes that a preliminary injunction is warranted.  The Commonwealth’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction will be granted and Defendants shall be enjoined from enforcing the New IFRs.

December 21, 2017: Politico reported that Judge Hayword Gilliam Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, issued a preliminary injunction suspending the Trump administrations rules that would allow any employer to claim a religious or moral objective to covering birth control – and be allowed to exclude that coverage from their worker’s health plans.

To clarify, Judge Hayword Gilliam Jr., is the judge who heard the case brought by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on December 12, 2017.  Four other states joined that lawsuit: Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Virginia.  This means that two U.S. District Court judges have placed an injunction on the Trump Administration’s hastily created rules regarding contraceptive coverage in employer sponsored health plans.  From the article:

…Gilliam’s 29-page ruling centered on the Trump administration’s failure to pursue a notice and comment process before implementing the policy.  His decision appeared to rest more heavily on procedural elements than Judge Wendy Beetlestone of the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, who concluded it would be hard to imagine a rule that “intrudes more into the lives of women.”

But Gilliam also acknowledged “the potentially dire public health and fiscal consequences” that could affect plaintiffs “as a result of a process as to which they had no input.”

“Plaintiffs are not only likely to suffer irreparable procedural harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction, they already have done so,” Gilliam wrote.  The judge heard arguments in a federal court in Oakland, Calif. last week.

…The decision effectively returns the policies to where they were before October 6, when President Donald Trump issued the rule and put it into effect immediately.  Obamacare generally requires employers to cover FDA-approved contraception at no cost to women.

The Politico article also notes that California state law already requires insurers to cover birth control.  But, state officials argued the federal rules could affect as many as 6.8 million Californians who are currently on employer-sponsored health plans that fall outside that state directive.

January 2, 2018: The Los Angeles Times posted an editorial titled: “Allowing employers a ‘moral exemption’ from offering birth control coverage is immoral” It was written by the Times Editorial Board.  From the editorial:

There are few things more profoundly important to a woman than controlling when and if she has children. Almost all sexually active women have used at least one type of birth control in their lifetimes. One of the hallmarks of the 2010 Affordable Care Act is that it promised women comprehensive preventative care at no out-of-pocket cost if they were covered by employer-sponsored health insurance plans. Under regulations adopted by the Obama administration, that care included 18 methods of contraception.

Without insurance, the price of some contraceptives can be daunting for many women. In a legal filing in November, several state attorneys general, including Xavier Becerra of California, said that since the requirement for insurance plans to cover contraception took effect in 2012, women across the country had saved $1.4 billion on birth control.

But the fight for contraception coverage has been fraught, because not all employers have willingly agreed to participate.  Churches and other religious groups were entirely exempted from the rule, and other not-for-profit religiously-affiliated employers similar objections were allowed to opt out of providing the coverage via an “accommodation” or workaround: Basically, the insurance company or benefits administrator still had to offer birth control coverage to employees – but the employer wasn’t technically involved and wasn’t billed for it…

…Then, in October, The Trump administration put into place – without the required advance notice or opportunity for public comment – far-reaching rules offering full exemptions to employers who claimed a religious objection to contraception and also to those who claimed a “moral objection”. The exemptions would be available to private companies of all sizes as well as nonprofits. And those companies would not be required to offer the workaround that guaranteed contraceptive coverage for their female employees at no cost to the employer.

Fortunately, two separate court rulings last month rebuffed the [Trump] administration on this issue. In the more recent one, U.S. District Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. took the administration to task for illegally putting the rules into effect without first giving notice and allowing public comment as required by the federal Administrative Procedure Act. Gilliam issued a nationwide preliminary injunction and ordered the administration to return to the rules that were in place before October.  The judge issued the order in response to a lawsuit filed by Becerra along with the attorneys general of Delaware, Maryland, New York and Virginia.  They argued that the new rulings were not only illegally put in place but had harmed those states and their citizens already.  The judge agreed, saying the new rules “transform contraceptive coverage from a legal entitlement to an essentially gratuitous benefit wholly subject to their employers discretion”…

…It is unjust and un-economical to deprive women of easy and affordable access to birth control. The issue here should not be an employer’s religious or moral beliefs but the needs, beliefs, health and safety of the employee.  Why should our employers make the moral or religious decisions about our healthcare? Besides, it is already caller that there are plenty of ways for employers to register their objections and then allow insurance company to step in and provide the insurance.  That’s accommodation enough…

Comment I Wrote Opposing Religious Exemptions for Contraceptive Coverage is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.

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