Update 5 p.m. ET: Pennsylvania Eastern District Judge Wendy Beetlestone has issued a nationwide injunction, blocking the Trump administration’s birth control rules from taking effect anywhere in the country, citing concerns that states could be impacted by fallout associated with residents losing contraceptive coverage.
In a statement, HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said the rules “affirm the Trump Administration’s commitment to upholding the freedoms afforded all Americans under our Constitution.” Original post below.
As of Monday, employers in 37 states are no longer mandated by law to provide birth control coverage for their workers, thanks to new rules rolled out by the Trump administration. The guidelines will not go into effect in 13 other states and the District of Columbia, after a judge in Oakland, California, blocked implementation hours before the rules were set to take effect.
The government has said the new rules “protect a narrow class of sincere religious and moral objectors,” but advocates like Planned Parenthood say the rules threaten birth control access for tens of millions of women who gained coverage when the ACA went into effect.
Under the Affordable Care Act, employers were required to offer birth control coverage to their employees at no additional cost. Religious organizations that objected were previously exempt from providing coverage, but the Trump administration broadened the provisions to exempt any employers with either religious or “moral convictions” that would preclude them from offering birth control coverage.
The state of California sued to prevent the rules from going into effect. On Sunday, Judge Haywood Gilliam granted an injunction to those states that joined California’s suit — Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Virginia, plus the District of Columbia — but he declined to block the rules nationwide.
Gilliam acknowledged that the ruling meant women in states not covered by the injunction could lose birth control coverage, but said the “high threshold” needed to implement a nationwide injunction wasn’t met.
Nevertheless, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra hailed the decision in a statement Sunday. “The law couldn’t be more clear — employers have no business interfering in women’s health care decisions,” Becerra said. “Today’s court ruling stops another attempt by the Trump Administration to trample on women’s access to basic reproductive care. It’s 2019, yet the Trump Administration is still trying to roll back women’s rights. Our coalition will continue to fight to ensure women have access to the reproductive healthcare they are guaranteed under the law.”
Courts previously blocked a similar rule the Trump administration attempted to implement back in 2017.