Courts Reproductive Rights

Federal Appeals Court Blocks Trump Administration’s Birth Control Exemptions

Last Friday, the 3rd U.S Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a nation-wide injunction to block the Trump administration from enforcing new rules that would allow employers to obtain exemptions from an ACA requirement that insurance must cover women’s birth control. This decision upheld a district court decision issued in January that blocked regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services allowing employers with religious and moral objections to seek exemptions from this ACA requirement.

In Friday’s decision, the three-judge panel agreed with the Democratic state attorneys general from Pennsylvania and New Jersey arguing that the Health and Human Services rules had “serious substantive problems.” The Trump administration itself cited that up to 126,400 women nationally would lose contraceptive coverage due to the rules issued by Health and Human Services.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro commended the ruling as a “huge victory for women’s rights and the rule of law.” Shapiro, along with New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, brought the lawsuit against the Trump administration’s regulations. In a statement, Shapiro further added that “contraception is medicine—pure and simple.”

Louise Melling, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, also praised the court for its decision. In a statement, she wrote that “yet another court has stopped this administration from sanctioning discrimination under the guise of religion or morality.”

This decision is a huge legal win for access to legal birth control across the country. Melling further noted that the ACLU “applaud[s] the order to enjoin the enforcement of these discriminatory rules.” When the rules were first proposed at the end of 2018, Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, argued that “women across the country see these rules for what they truly are: a misogynistic effort by self-righteous politicians to give employers control over their bodies.”


Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 11/8/18, The Hill 7/12/19, Reuters 7/12/19, ThinkProgress 7/13/19

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