WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - In an effort to address conscience-based objections, the Trump administration announced a move Friday to relax Obamacare's requirement that employers include birth control coverage in their healthcare plans.
The Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor announced two rules providing protections to employers who have a religious or moral objection to paying for health insurance that covers birth control.
Under the first rule, entities that have sincerely held religious beliefs against providing such services would no longer be required to do so, HHS said.
HHS said the second rule applies the same protections to organizations and small businesses that have objections on the basis of moral conviction that is not based in any particular religious belief.
The administration noted that the rules leave in place preventive services coverage guidelines where no religious or moral objection exists.
HHS said the exemptions may impact only about 200 entities that filed lawsuits challenging the requirement, predicting the rules would not affect over 99.9 percent of the 165 million women in the U.S.
However, critics of the move argued that the rules could open the door to many more organizations dropping birth control coverage from their insurance plans.
Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women's Law Center, claimed the rules show callous disregard for women's rights, health, and autonomy.
'By taking away women's access to no-cost birth control coverage, the rules give employers a license to discriminate against women,' Graves said.
'This will leave countless women without the critical birth control coverage they need to protect their health and economic security,' she added. 'We will take immediate legal steps to block these unfair and discriminatory rules.'
(Photo: Gage Skidmore)
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