U.S. appeals court blocks Trump administration birth control exemptions

FILE PHOTO: An illustration picture shows a woman holding a pill at her home in Nice
FILE PHOTO: An illustration picture shows a woman holding a birth control pill at her home in Nice January 3, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

July 12, 2019

By Nate Raymond

(Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Friday blocked the Trump administration from enforcing new rules allowing employers to obtain exemptions from an Obamacare requirement they provide health insurance that covers women’s birth control.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia upheld a nationwide injunction that blocked the implementation of rules allowing employers with religious and moral objections to seek exemptions from the 2010 healthcare law’s requirement.

The three-judge panel sided with Democratic state attorneys general from Pennsylvania and New Jersey who challenged the rules issued by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury in 2018.

U.S. Circuit Judge Patty Shwartz said the state attorneys general were likely to succeed in proving the agencies did follow proper administrative procedures and that the rules were not authorized by the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

The decision upheld a preliminary injunction issued by a federal judge in Philadelphia last year blocking enforcement of the rules.

The lawsuit was filed after Republican President Donald Trump’s administration in October 2017 unveiled interim rules that targeted the contraceptive mandate implemented as part of Obamacare.

The U.S. Justice Department, which defended the rules in court, did not respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Tom Brown)

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