A Federal Court Blocked Trump’s Birth Control Rule Nationwide

On the same day that Trump’s birth control rule was supposed to take effect, a federal judge in Pennsylvania blocked it nationwide. According to Politico, the ruling extended a partial injunction from a California judge that began on Sunday night, and it stopped the rule from going into place in 13 states that are currently involved in a lawsuit against it.

The rule would basically allow employers to stop providing their employees insurance coverage for birth control on the basis of religious or moral reasons. On Monday afternoon, Judge Wendy Beetlestone sided with a group of Democratic attorney generals, who challenged the administrations violation against the Affordable Care Act. 

“Fundamentally, given the harm to the States should the Final Rules be enforced—numerous citizens losing contraceptive coverage, resulting in ‘significant, direct and proprietary harm’ to the States in the form of increased used of state-funded contraceptive services, as well as increased costs associated with unintended pregnancies—a nationwide injunction is required to ensure complete relief to the States,” Beetlestone’s ruling read per BuzzFeed News

The Trump administration tried to—again—roll back on an important requirement of the Affordable Care Act, which says health insurance plans must provide contraception coverage. As The Washington Post reports, this requirement has been in place since 2012, and it says all FDA-approved forms of birth control must be offered. In attempting to offer coverage exceptions and exemptions to employers, Trump’s policy most likely would have affected many women seeking free or low-cost birth control.

“Decisions about birth control are for women and their families to make—not their employers,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey tweeted on Monday. “That was our argument and the court agreed. We led a coalition to support @PAAttorneyGEn in this fight and now omen everywhere cna celebrate this victory.” 

“No American Should be forced to violate his or her own conscience in order to abide by the laws and regulations governing our healthcare system,” Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Caitlin Oakley said to The Washington Post. “The final rules affirm the Trump Administration’s commitment to upholding the freedoms afforded all Americans under our Constitution.” 

This ruling comes one day after Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. of the United States District Court in Oakland, California, issued a temporary block of the new rule in 13 states and the District of Columbia, according to Politico. Gilliam wrote on Sunday night that the new rule is “nearly identical to” the administrations earlier versions. He also wrote that he “fully recognizes that limiting the scope of this injunction to the plaintiff states means that women in other states are at risk of losing access to cost-free contraceptives when the final rules take effect.” 

Beetlestone argued, instead, on Monday that the only way to provide “complete relief” to the states suing was to block the rules across the United States, according to Politico. Both the partial and full injunctions stem from two different lawsuits that challenge the Trump administration’s attempt to provide birth control exemptions for employers. As NPR reports, Beetlestone found that states would have been harmed by the rule as women who lost birth control coverage would turn to state-funded programs. 

Unfortunately, the fight to protect Affordable Care Act’s requirement for birth control coverage isn’t over. But Sunday and Monday marked a huge win for contraception coverage advocates.