In another move to undercut former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court voted today to allow Trump to exempt employers from the Obamacare birth control mandate.
Since 2010, employers have been mandated to guarantee free birth control and contraceptive services for women and so far, all FDA-approved contraceptives were included. Now, employers have the option to not cover birth control in their health insurance plans for employees, possibly forcing the millions of women who obtain birth control at no cost through their job to start paying for it.
The case involved a 2018 regulation from the Department of Health and Human Services exempting any employer who has a religious or moral objection to birth control from a requirement that such coverage be included in an employee’s health insurance plan, ABC News reports.
Seventeen states, led by Pennsylvania and New Jersey, challenged the policy as fundamentally unlawful.
The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 to uphold Donald Trump’s move. Justice Clarence Thomas, writing the majority opinion, concluded that a “plain reading” of the law gives the administration “virtually unbridled discretion” to decide what counts as required coverage and any religious and moral exemptions that may be necessary.
“No language in the statute itself even hints that Congress intended that contraception should or must be covered,” Thomas writes. “It was Congress, not the (administration), that declined to expressly require contraceptive coverage in the ACA itself.”
Justice Elena Kagan, who wrote the concurring opinion, made clear that the fight over the exemptions may not be over. While the administration has the right to change the policy, she said, “I question whether the exemptions can survive administrative law’s demand for reasoned decisionmaking. That issue remains open for the lower courts to address.”
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented, saying the court’s ruling “leaves women workers to fend for themselves.”
“As the government estimates, between 70,500 and 126,400 women would immediately lose access to no-cost contraceptive services” under the judgment, Ginsburg wrote.
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