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U.S. judge partially blocks Trump administration birth control rules

U.S. judge partially blocks Trump administration birth control rules

A U.S. judge in Pennsylvania on Monday blocked President Donald Trump's administration rules which would allow more employers to opt out of providing women with no-cost birth control by claiming it violates their "moral convictions" from taking effect, nationwide.

"My office just won big", tweeted Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Gilliam said the religious exemption has the effect of "depriving female employees, students and other beneficiaries" of their right to "seamlessly-provided contraceptive coverage at no cost".

An interim version of the new rules was previously blocked nationwide by Gilliam and by a Philadelphia judge, though a San Francisco-based appeals court later said Gilliam should have limited the scope of his injunction to the states in California's coalition.

The case stems from the Trump administration's modification of a requirement under the Affordable Care Act that birth control treatment be covered at no additional cost to employees.

Mr Becerra and his counterparts in the other states had asked for a nationwide injunction but Judge Gilliam limited the ruling to only those states moving against the new rules.

"Today's court ruling stops another attempt by the Trump Administration to trample on women's access to basic reproductive care", Attorney General Becerra said.

"Fundamentally, given the harm to the States should the Final Rules be enforced-numerous citizens losing contraceptive coverage, resulting in "significant, direct and proprietary harm" to the States in the form of increased use of state-funded contraceptive services, as well as increased costs associated with unintended pregnancies-a nation-wide injunction is required to ensure complete relief to the States", Beetlestone wrote in her 65-page opinion.

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The injunction, however, only applies in the coalition of 13 Democratic states, plus the District of Columbia, that brought the lawsuit. Some private employers could also object on moral grounds.

The other states impacted by the ruling are Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington.

The Women's Health Amendment is the provision of the ACA that requires employer-provided health insurance to include coverage for free or low-priced birth control.

The mandate requiring birth control coverage had been a key feature of so-called Obamacare - President Obama's efforts to overhaul the United States healthcare system.

The U.S. Department of Justice, which has defended the rules in court, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but it will likely appeal the decision.

The challengers "have raised serious questions going to the merits, on their claim that the Religious Exemption and the Moral Exemption are inconsistent with the Women's Health Amendment", wrote Judge Haywood Gilliam, Jr., who was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2014.

A federal judge Monday temporarily blocked President Trump's push to exempt a range of companies and religious nonprofits from an Obama-era mandate to insure birth control or submit their objections in writing. But administration of Republican President Donald Trump expanded those exemptions and added "moral convictions" as a basis to opt out of providing birth control services. The U.S. Supreme Court will probably have the final say on the matter.


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