WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday undermined requirements under the Obamacare law that employers provide insurance to cover women’s birth control, keeping a campaign pledge that pleased his conservative Christian supporters.
New rules from the Department of Health and Human Services will let businesses or non-profit organizations lodge religious or moral objections to obtain an exemption from the law’s mandate that employers provide contraceptives coverage in health insurance with no co-payment.
Conservative Christian activists and congressional Republicans praised the move, while reproductive rights advocates and Democrats criticized it. It was unclear how many employers would actually drop birth control coverage on religious grounds, and there were significant doubts that many big ones would.
Within hours, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the administration in federal court in San Francisco to try to halt the rule, claiming among other things that it violated the U.S. Constitution’s requirement for separation of church and state.
The states of Massachusetts and California also sued, and Democratic state attorneys general in another 16 states threatened legal action.
“This is a landmark day for religious liberty. Under the Obama administration, this constitutional right was seriously eroded,” Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said.
“The Trump administration just took direct aim at birth control coverage for 62 million women,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said.