Religious employers see new exemptions on HHS mandate

President Trump's plan to roll back the federal mandate that employers include birth control coverage in their health plans will be formally announced as early as today, reported The New York Times.

The previous mandate required all employers with the exception of churches to provide birth control as part of their benefits package.

The Family Research Council, through its president, Tony Perkins, said, "After eight years of the federal government's relentless assault on the First Amendment, the Trump administration has taken concrete steps today that will once again erect a bulwark of protection around American's First Freedom - religious freedom".

"With this rule, the Trump administration is taking direct aim at birth control coverage for more than 62 million women", Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president for Planned Parenthood, said in a statement.

With the new rules, Trump would be fulfilling one of his campaign promises.

That fight has been the focus of many court hearings around the nation, and already has been in the U.S. Supreme Court five times.

The lawsuit is challenging the Trump administration's move on the basis of the Establishment Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, according to the press release. The agency is issuing guidelines for insurers that specify they have to charge women who want abortion coverage at least $12 a year for that coverage. But those groups rejected the accommodations and filed dozens of lawsuits, leading to two separate Supreme Court challenges, including the Hobby Lobby decision.

"Donald Trump's latest dictate is a flawless execution of his passions: controlling women and robbing people of healthcare", said NARAL president Ilyse Hogue. Under the Justice Department guidelines, this could expand to allowing employers to hire in accordance with their religious beliefs and prohibit denying federal contracts to entities based on religious beliefs.

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"I think what the Trump administration is trying to do is effectively gut the rule without repealing it, because repealing it would be so unpopular", Gretchen Borchelt, of the National Women's Law Center, told the Huffington Post. The website also claims that 65 percent of millennials believe that employers should include contraception at no cost.

According to The Hill, under the new rule, any employer or insurer can be exempt from the mandate on both moral and religious grounds.

Revised rules give relief to religious nonprofits and others with deeply held religious or moral convictions regarding contraception.

Trump could deliver the new rules as early as Friday and put in jeopardy the free and low-priced birth control afforded to over 55 million people in the US.

"Donald Trump's latest dictate is a flawless execution of his passions: controlling women and robbing people of healthcare".

The practical effects of the change are obvious: some American women who receive contraception at no cost will, as a result of the Trump administration's new policy, have to pay higher out-of-pocket costs for birth control - because their employer says so. "With this rule in place, any employer could decide that their employees no longer have health insurance coverage for birth control", Richards added. She says the new rule is a tool for discrimination against women.

"It was really important for women to have a choice of the full range of contraceptive methods that were FDA-approved", said Alina Salganicoff, director of women's health policy for the Kaiser foundation.

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