Federal judge blocks Trump administration birth control exemption

Clare Proctor, Assistant City Editor

A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Monday blocked Trump administration rules that attempted to broaden which employers can claim exemption from providing birth control without copayment.

The rules, which were proposed by the Trump administration in October 2017, would have allowed nonprofit groups, for-profit companies, schools and universities to claim exemption from providing contraceptive coverage. Previously, under a stipulation of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, only religious groups with religious objections could claim exemption from providing this coverage.

U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone, the federal judge in Philadelphia, blocked the rules from taking effect nationwide. The regulations were supposed to take effect on Monday.

This came after Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. — a federal judge in Oakland, California — temporarily blocked the rules from taking effect in 13 states, including Illinois.

Beetlestone wrote in her order that the Trump administration’s regulations would cause direct harm to the states, including increased use of state-funded contraceptive services and costs corresponding with unintended pregnancies.

“The states’ harm is not merely speculative; it is actual and imminent,” Beetlestone wrote. “The final rules estimate that at least 70,500 women will lose coverage.”

It is unclear if the Trump administration will appeal this decision.

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