The Trump administration issued a ruling to block the enactment of a Trump administration policy that would allow employers with religious or moral objections to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to provide birth control coverage in their insurance plans. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has recently joined the Third Circuit in blocking this policy.

The Ninth Circuit said in a 2-1 ruling that the birth control opt out rule, “contradicts congressional intent that all women have access to appropriate preventative care.” And responding to the religious freedom argument used by the Trump administration to enact this policy, Judge J Clifford Wallace emphasized that the law “does not entitle organizations to control their employees’ relationships with third parties that are willing and obligated to provide contraceptive care.”

Also, the Religious Freedom Restoration act, “allows exemptions from federal requirement that substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion but does not extend to moral objections,” Wallace added. The court’s decision currently blocks the federal government from enforcing the policy in fourteen states: California, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, New York, Illinois, Washington, Minnesota, Connecticut, North Carolina, Vermont, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia.

The American Civil Liberties Union Lawyer, Minouche Kandel said the court’s decision, “affirms women’s ability to be fully active in society. Women need to control their reproductive lives in order to fully engage in work and life.” While this is a step in the right direction, there is still a possibility that the supreme court could overturn the federal courts’ decision.

Religious groups and the federal government have recently called for the Supreme Court to review the third circuit’s decision, which although primarily affects Pennsylvania, would also have consequences for the court’s ruling.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle 10/22/19; Bloomberg Law 10/22/19

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