On Monday, a US federal judge blocked two rules by the Trump administration that would have made it easier for employers, universities and insurers to decline to provide women birth control coverage.
The rules, which were supposed to come into effect throughout the country on Monday, were blocked by Philadelphia Judge Wendy Beetleston, who granted an injunction requested by attorneys general in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Beetlestone stated that the new rules would have needlessly increased difficulty for women to obtain free and affordable contraception and would’ve placed an undue burden on US states by forcing them to provide additional birth control coverage and pay the health costs arising from unplanned pregnancies.
The national block comes after a federal judge in California halted the policy in 13 states and the District of Columbia on Sunday night.
Under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), birth control was required to be covered in employer-provided health insurance plans as a preventative service. Prior to taking office, Trump pledged to eliminate the requirement, issuing a policy of “religious freedom” in November that gave employers more flexibility to deny birth control coverage based on their religious beliefs and “non-religious moral convictions” against the contraceptive.
The Obama-era mandate, which already included a provision letting religious institutions forgo birth control coverage for their employees, benefitted more than 55 million women throughout the country. However, by expanding the number of employers and insurers who could opt out, the Trump administration’s regulations could put thousands of women at risk of losing the free or affordable access they have to birth control.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra called the rulings another success by the courts in stopping the Trump administration’s assault on women’s access to basic reproductive health care.
“It’s 2019, yet the Trump administration is still trying to roll back women’s rights. Our coalition will continue to fight to ensure women have access to the reproductive health care they are guaranteed under the law,” he said in a statement.