The Trump administration has drafted a rule that would allow religious employers to stop covering birth control in employer health plans.
The free-contraceptive mandate was one of the most controversial components of the Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010. Supporters argue that it is a basic issue of women's rights and suggest that the increased availability of safe contraceptives contributed to a decline in teen births and abortions. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Academy of Pediatrics and many other medical groups also have argued that there are numerous scientifically recognized benefits of birth control use beyond preventing pregnancy.
But the measure has been a target of dozens of lawsuits by organizations that argue it goes against their religious beliefs. One such group, the 178-year-old Little Sisters of the Poor, took their fight to the Supreme Court, but the high court ultimately kicked the decision back to the lower courts.
President Trump this month invited the Little Sisters of the Poor to join him as he signed an executive order to “address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate.” The draft rule, reported by the New York Times, appears to be the result of that order.
On Tuesday, Democrats in Congress vowed to fight such a change. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the plan “sickening” and said it would deny millions of women “access to basic, preventive health care.”
“The draft rule announced today attempts to tear away women’s control over their own private health decisions and put that control in the hands of employers and politicians,” she said in a statement.
Pelosi said the draft rule is part of a larger “campaign against women” and referred to another Trump executive order that blocks $8.8 billion of U.S. aid to groups abroad that counsel or provide referrals about abortion.