Supreme Court Backs Trump Administration Exemptions from Contraceptive Mandate

In a major victory for U.S. President Donald Trump, the Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the administration’s plan to exempt employers with a religious or moral objection from a mandate requiring them to provide free birth control coverage to their employees. The ruling weakens a key contraceptive coverage provision of the Affordable Care Act which has otherwise largely survived repeated legal and political challenges since its enactment 10 years ago. The health insurance plan created by the law is commonly known as Obamacare. According to government estimates, between 70,000 and 126,000 women could lose free employer-provided contraceptive coverage as a result of the ruling. FILE – In this March 25, 2015, photo, protesters demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court, as the court heard arguments in the challenges to a US health care law requiring businesses to provide employees with insurance that includes contraceptives.In 2013, the Obama administration exempted churches and other houses of worship from the mandate and it gave religious non-profits the ability to opt out of the program. In 2017, the Trump administration expanded the exemptions, issuing interim rules that allowed private entities with “religious and moral objections” to the mandate to opt out of the program. The administration finalized the rules in 2018. The states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey then sued to block the rules. They argued that the rules violated both the Affordable Care Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, the law that governs federal administrative agencies.  A federal district court and appeals court sided with the states. The Little Sisters of the Poor, a Roman Catholic religious institute for women, and the Trump administration then appealed to the Supreme Court. This is the second time the Supreme Court has weighed in on the contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act. In 2014, the high court held that requiring family-owned companies to provide free contraceptive coverage violated a religious freedom law. 



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