Judge halts birth control rules in 13 states, DC
OAKLAND, Calif. — A U.S. judge in California on Sunday blocked Trump administration rules from taking effect in 13 states and Washington, D.C., that would have allowed more employers to opt out of providing women with no-cost birth control.
Judge Haywood Gilliam granted a request for a preliminary injunction by California, 12 other states and D.C. The plaintiffs sought to prevent the rules from taking effect as scheduled on Monday while a lawsuit against them moved forward.
But Gilliam limited the scope of the ruling to the plaintiffs, rejecting their request that he block the rules nationwide.
The changes would allow more employers, including publicly traded companies, to opt out of providing no-cost contraceptive coverage to women by claiming religious objections. Some private employers also could object on moral grounds.
“The law couldn’t be more clear — employers have no business interfering in women’s health care decisions,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement Sunday. “Today’s court ruling stops another attempt by the Trump administration to trample on women’s access to basic reproductive care . ... Our coalition will continue to fight to ensure women have access to the reproductive health care they are guaranteed under the law.”
The U.S. Department of Justice said in court documents that the rules “protect a narrow class of sincere religious and moral objectors from being forced to facilitate practices that conflict with their beliefs.”
At issue is a requirement under President Barack Obama’s health care law that birth control services be covered at no additional cost. Obama officials included exemptions for religious organizations. The Trump administration expanded those exemptions and added “moral convictions” as a basis to opt out.