On Sunday, federal Judge Haywood Gilliam blocked a Trump administration’s rule that would allow more employers to decline providing women with no-cost birth control on moral or religious grounds. The Department of Health and Human Services issued the new rules that were supposed to go into effect on today. The ruling by Judge Gilliam, from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, put the new policy on hold for 13 states and the District of Columbia.
President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) requires most companies to offer their employees health insurance that covers birth control at no cost. The new rule was consistent with President Trump’s promise to protect the religious freedom of employers by making it easier to opt out of the ACA requirement.
Pro-life groups and religious organizations had asked the Trump administration to allow for more flexible exemptions to Obamacare’s birth control mandate. The request is consistent with their opposition to birth control, sterilization and specially birth control methods considered abortifacients because they can prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.
Judge Gilliam had said at a previous hearing that the changes introduced by the Trump administration would result in a substantial number of women losing birth control coverage.
The decision in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California was issued Sunday in response to a lawsuit filed by California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
The plaintiffs had requested Judge Gilliam to block the new rule nationwide, but the judge limited the scope of the ruling to the 13 states and Washington D.C.