In a tremendous gift to the religious right, President Donald Trump has just instituted a sweeping rollback of an ObamaCare mandate requiring most employers to provide contraception as part of their health insurance programs, at no cost to the employee. Religious right groups have long opposed the mandate, insisting it violates their religious beliefs. That opposition has extended to the absurd claim that even filing a form requesting an exemption was religious oppression.
Now, nearly any employer – not just faith-based organizations or companies – can claim a religious or moral objection, based on this new guidance, and refuse to cover contraception. Many women require contraception services not to prevent pregnancy but to treat other health issues.
"Senior Justice Department officials said the guidance was merely meant to offer interpretation and clarification of existing law. But the interpretation seemed to be particularly favorable to religious entities, possibly at the expense of women, LGBT people and others," The Washington Post reports.
The impact will be extensive.
"Now any woman’s boss can object to covering contraception on moral grounds," HuffPost's Laura Bassett reports, noting 62 million women are affected.
In explaining the move the White House falsely claims that making contraception accessible "could promote 'risky sexual behavior' among adolescents."
HuffPost notes that mandating no-cost contraception "saved women $1.4 billion on birth control in the first year it went into effect, which has contributed to an all-time low in unintended pregnancy and the lowest U.S. abortion rate since the procedure became legal in 1973."
"Women's health advocates have already promised lawsuits to block the new rules, which take effect immediately," Politico adds.
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