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Courts balk at the Trump administration's new rules on birth control

The Trump administration has tried to make it easier for employers to deny access to no-cost contraception. It's not going well.
Image: FILE PHOTO: The Pill Turns 50: A Look Back At Contraception
UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 22: 50 years ago today the combined oral contraceptive pill was first introduced as a means of contraceptive use in the United...

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, existing law requires private employers' health insurance plans to provide birth control services. Donald Trump's administration, following directions from social conservatives, have tried to create new rules that would exempt anti-contraception employers from following the law.

It's not working out especially well for the White House. This was the news on Sunday night.

A federal judge on Sunday temporarily blocked Trump administration rules allowing employers to refuse to provide free birth control from taking effect Monday in 13 states.The regulations, which the Trump administration announced in October 2017, widened the pool of employers that are allowed to claim exemption from providing contraceptive coverage to include nonprofit groups, for-profit companies, other nongovernmental employers, and schools and universities.Previously, only explicitly religious groups could opt out if they could show "sincerely held" religious objections.

U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam's order only applied to the 13 states and the District of Columbia which filed the case. Less than 24 hours later, however, a different judge came to a similar conclusion.

A federal judge in Pennsylvania stepped in at the last moment to pause Trump administration rules that would restrict the ability of some women to get birth control at no charge because their employers object on religious or moral grounds.U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone issued a nationwide preliminary injunction Monday afternoon, the same day the new policy was to take effect.

This clearly isn't what the Republican administration had in mind.

This isn't just some academic exercise. If Trump's proposed rule rook effect, large private-sector businesses could simply declare a moral objection to birth control, leaving many Americans -- who currently receive no-cost contraception though their insurance -- with a new financial burden.

As the Washington Post's report on yesterday's ruling added, "The rulings do not permanently block the Trump policy but stop it from going into effect while legal challenges are pursued."

Watch this space.