Judge Blocks Trump’s Birth Control Mandate Roll Back

A federal judge has blocked a plan from President Donald Trump‘s administration that would allow employers, universities, and insurers to opt out of covering birth control for moral or religious reasons, according to reports.

Pennsylvania U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone granted a preliminary injunction as part of an ongoing trial regarding the rules brought about by the Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year. The rule said employers’ insurers could forgo the Obama-era requirement to guarantee cost-free birth control based on “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

The birth control and contraceptive requirement was mandated as part of the Affordable Care Act.

BuzzFeed reports Beetlestone said the rule could cause “enormous and irreversible” harm to women in Pennsylvania and “across the nation.” The case brought up by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, or “the Commonwealth,” as referred to in Beetlestone’s decision.

“The Commonwealth’s concern is that absent available cost-effective contraception, women will either forego contraception entirely or choose cheaper but less effective methods—individual choices which will result in an increase in untended pregnancies,” Beetlestone wrote. “That, in turn, will inflict economic harm on the Commonwealth because unintended pregnancies are more likely to impose additional costs on Pennsylvania’s State-funded health programs.”

In October, the Trump administration argued that it was “necessary and appropriate” to expand the exemptions for religious reasons because it placed a “substantial burden” on employers’ freedom of religion.

California has also sued the administration because of its October rule.

You can read more about the temporary injunction here.

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/trump-birth-control-mandate-blocked/

Notre Dame drops birth control coverage under Trump’s ‘religious freedom’ policy

For many students from low-income families, student health insurance plans are assurance they’ll receive adequate medical care during their college years. But now Notre Dame is taking the Trump administration up its offer to allow organizations and employers to drop birth control coverage from their insurance plans—a move that will impact students and employees.

First announced by Indiana Public Media, Notre Dame will end all health insurance coverage for students in mid-August 2018, just in time for the following school year. Meanwhile, the university’s employees will have their contraceptive coverage pulled as soon as Jan. 1. That includes graduate students employed by the university and eligible for health insurance.

Previously, in conjunction with laws under Obamacare, Notre Dame used a third-party service paid for by the government to provide contraceptives to the university’s students and employees. This meant the university wasn’t paying for its faculty, staff, and students’ birth control, but anyone covered under Notre Dame’s health insurance could access contraception on the federal government’s dime. However, last month, the Trump administration ended Obama’s contraception mandate and the Department of Health and Human Services announced employers could remove birth control coverage from their insurance plans if it would violate their religious beliefs or moral convictions.

Notre Dame, originally founded by a Catholic priest, is run by the Catholic Church. According to Vox, 90 percent of the school’s employees are on the university’s insurance plan, and 3,020 out of the school’s 12,393 students use it as well, most of which are grad students. In other words, most of the school needs health insurance to get by.

“I didn’t expect a change so soon,” one graduate student named Amanda told the South Bend Tribune.

The ACLU has since sued the Trump administration over its religious freedom birth control policy, and one of the plaintiffs involved is a law student at Notre Dame. “No woman should ever be denied health care because her employer or university’s religious views are prioritized over her serious medical needs,” said law student Kate Rochat said in an official press statement.

By letting universities deny birth control coverage in their health insurance plans, critics argue the Trump administration is setting a dangerous precedent for medical coverage in the U.S. For one, it gives religious employers the right to arbitrarily discriminate against their employees’ medical needs. It also targets low-income families, forcing poor and working-class women to obtain birth control on the black market—or to go without birth control at all.

H/T Slate

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/irl/notre-dame-birth-control-trump/

Employers no longer have to cover birth control, orders Trump

The Trump administration rolled back the federal mandate for employers to cover birth control in their health insurance plans on Friday, USA Today reports.

Under the administration’s new rule, any employer or insurer that objects to covering birth control “based on its sincerely held religious beliefs” or “moral convictions” can forgo the federal Obama-era requirement that guaranteed cost-free birth control to 62 million women.

According to the Trump administration, “it is necessary and appropriate to provide the expanded exemptions” because there’s no way to satisfy all religious objections to the mandate, and that there is no “compelling governmental interest” in having entities with religious objections fulfill the mandate. The mandate, therefore, places a “substantial burden” on an employers’ freedom of religion, it argues.

The New York Times reports that the administration also argued that the Affordable Care Act doesn’t explicitly require contraceptive coverage, and said birth control could promote “risky sexual behavior,” as well as listed health risks associated with certain contraceptives.

The rules apply to for-profit employers regardless of the size of ownership. Employers won’t need to notify the government of their exemption but must inform employees of their coverage change.

The administration claims that the exemption won’t affect many women in the long run and that there are already “dozens of programs” subsidizing birth control. Women’s health advocates argue, however, that hundreds of thousands of women could possibly go without birth control coverage. Prior to the ACA mandate, one in three women struggled to pay for birth control, which can cost over $1,000 a year.

“I think what the Trump administration is trying to do is effectively gut the rule without repealing it, because repealing it would be so unpopular,” Gretchen Borchelt, vice president for reproductive rights and health at the National Women’s Law Center, said in a statement. “They’re taking contraception coverage away from women without justification.”

The National Women’s Law Center said it will sue the Trump administration and the ACLU has also indicated in the past that it will challenge the move.

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/irl/trump-aca-birth-control-coverage/

Birth control app Nurx now delivers to the contraceptive deserts of Texas

About half the counties in Texas dont have the number of public clinics required to meet the contraceptive needs of the population. So Nurx, an at-home birth control delivery app, decided to give women in the state the option to get birth control whenever they want and without ever needing to step into a clinic or even physically see a doctor.

Starting today, those in the Lone Star State will be able to tap the Nurx app and get contraceptives delivered straight to their door.

While Texas isnt the only state with a giant contraceptive desert, or an area withoutat least 1 clinic to every 1,000 women in need of publicly funded contraception, it is certainly the biggest area of land in the United States not meeting these needs.

And with Trumpcare looming, and Trumps recent Religious Freedom order, which allows businesses to deny birth control coverage based on religious reasons, many women could lose access to their publicly funded birth control pills and even more publicly funded clinics could go under, leaving a large and vulnerable population wide open to other, possibly dangerous methods of preventing birth.

While there are plenty of birth control delivery services out on the market, such as Maven, The Pill Club, Lemonaid and BirthControlBuzz, I had a hard time finding any that delivered in Texas (get at me if you do). Thats not to say they wont at some point, as each of them could easily open up shop in this area, but it does seem Nurx,which is not a free birth control delivery service, but does provide the pills at a reasonable cost, may havediscovered a goldmine of people in need, for the time being.

For instance, a little more than half of all pregnancies in Texas were unplannedin 2015, costing taxpayers $2.9 billion that year. However, according to a Guttmacher Institute report, the total gross public savings from preventing unintended pregnancies would have been $2.14 billion if women and couples could be empowered to prevent them. Couple that with the teen birth rate in Texas, which sharply declined by 56 percent over the last two decades, thanks in large part to contraceptives, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Couple that with an additional estimate of more than 19 million women living in these contraceptive deserts nationwide and its easy to see adding these types of services could save money at the state level by removing middlemen and increasing access, as well as provide a lucrative area for Nurx and other birth control delivery apps to tap.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/05/birth-control-app-nurx-now-delivers-to-the-contraceptive-deserts-of-texas/