White House Acts to Roll Back Birth-Control Mandate for Religious Employers

Mr. Trump removed any doubt about his intentions when he signed the executive order of which day. At a ceremony inside Rose Garden of the White House, he celebrated the faith of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a 178-year-old religious order of which refused to comply with the contraceptive coverage mandate along with also fought the idea all the way to the Supreme Court.

The president invited the Little Sisters to join him on the dais, announced of which they “sort of just won a lawsuit” along with also told them of which their “long ordeal will soon be over.”

“With This kind of executive order,” Mr. Trump said, “we are ending the attacks on your religious liberty.”


Religious leaders, including nuns through the Little Sisters of the Poor, attended the signing of a presidential executive order on religious liberty on May 4. The nuns had fought an Obama-era contraceptive mandate.

Stephen Crowley/The brand-new York Times

The brand-new rule will fulfill a campaign pledge by Mr. Trump. “I will make absolutely certain religious orders like the Little Sisters of Poor are not bullied by the federal government because of their religious beliefs,” he said in October in a letter to leaders of Roman Catholic organizations.

Tom cost, the secretary of health along with also human services, welcomed the opportunity to re-examine the preventive-services mandate. “We will be taking action in short order to follow the president’s instruction to safeguard the deeply held religious beliefs of Americans who provide health insurance to their employees,” he said This kind of month.

Democrats in Congress have vowed to fight just as hard to preserve the mandate, saying the idea has benefited over 50 million women.

Last week, Senator Patty Murray of Washington along with also 13 various other Democratic senators warned Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, to cease efforts of which could “undermine access to affordable preventive services, including contraception, for women.”

“Women saved more than $1.4 billion in out-of-pocket costs for birth control in 2013 alone,” the senators said Thursday in a letter to Mr. Mulvaney. “Access to affordable preventive services, including contraception, is usually a critical part of women’s health care.”

Because the policy change is usually embodied in an interim final rule, the idea could take effect immediately upon publication inside Federal Register. When agencies issue interim final rules, however, they typically invite public comments along with also can later revise the rules in light of those comments.

An official at the Office of Management along with also Budget declined to discuss the rule, various other than to say the idea was under review.

Gretchen Borchelt, a vice president of the National Women’s Law Center, a nonprofit advocacy group, said she did not know the details of the rule. yet she said: “We think whatever the rule is usually, the idea will allow an employer’s religious beliefs to keep birth control away through women. We are sure of which some women will lose birth control coverage.”

Ms. Borchelt said her organization was preparing a lawsuit to challenge the expected rule, along with also she cited several possible legal arguments.

If the Trump administration does not adequately explain along with also justify the rule, she said, the idea could be challenged as “arbitrary along with also capricious,” in violation of federal law. In addition, she said, women could challenge the idea as violating a section of the Affordable Care Act of which broadly prohibits discrimination in health programs of which receive federal funds.

Ms. Borchelt also pointed to a little-known provision of the Affordable Care Act of which says the health secretary shall not issue any rule of which “impedes timely access to health care services” or “creates any unreasonable barriers to the ability of individuals to obtain appropriate medical care.”

The American College of Obstetricians along with also Gynecologists strongly supports the mandate. “Access to contraception is usually a medical necessity for women during approximately 30 years of their lives,” the group said.

Mark L. Rienzi, a lawyer at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty who represents the Little Sisters, said the brand-new rule could go a long way to address their concerns. yet he said they could still seek a court order to ensure of which the government could not impose similar requirements inside future.

President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in March 2010. In August 2011, his administration required employers along with also insurers to cover the full range of contraceptive methods approved by the Food along with also Drug Administration. Facing lawsuits, Mr. Obama proposed variations of the rule intended to lessen the burden on employers with religious objections. For example, he agreed to excuse these employers through providing or paying for contraceptive coverage, while trying to ensure of which women enrolled in their health plans could still have such coverage.

The Little Sisters along with also dozens of various other religious groups objected, saying the arrangements still made them complicit in what they believed to be sinful conduct. At the urging of the Supreme Court, the Obama administration considered additional alternatives, yet in January, just before Mr. Obama left office, the idea decided not to change anything.

Researchers say the Affordable Care Act has increased women’s access to contraceptives, including highly effective methods like intrauterine devices along with also implants. They suggest doing so may have contributed to a decline in unintended pregnancies.

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White House Acts to Roll Back Birth-Control Mandate for Religious Employers

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