Herring statement on Trump ending of contraception coverage rule
- Author: Sonia Alvarado Oct 07, 2017,
Oct 07, 2017, 0:09
While providing an exemption for religious employers, the new rules maintain the existing federal contraceptive mandate for most employers. In the aftermath of the Supreme Court's 2014 Hobby Lobby ruling that closely held private companies could seek an exemption on religious grounds, only a few dozen employers requested one from the Obama administration, POLITICO found previous year.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomed the administration's decision.
But several Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, applauded Trump's decision as protecting religious freedom.
"It corrects an anomalous failure by federal regulators that should never have occurred and should never be repeated", said the bishops.
Liberty Counsel filed an amicus brief in 2016 on behalf of Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of nuns dedicated to serving the elderly poor, whose case went to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Court ruled that the government could not fine the Little Sisters for refusing to comply with the mandate.
In a letter to the Catholic Leadership Conference dated October 5-just a few days before The Washington Post published the Access Hollywood tapes in which Trump bragged about committing sexual assault-the then-presidential candidate pledged to "make absolutely certain religious orders like The Little Sisters of Poor are not bullied by the federal government due to their religious beliefs", and "defend your religious liberties and the right to fully and freely practice your religion". "We thank President Trump for fulfilling a core promise to voters of faith and conscience who elected him".
It was later reported that the Obama administration used tax law to determine which groups would get a religious exemption from the mandate. The decision on Friday appears to be the first step in that direction.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said he has been "vocal in his criticism of the Trump administration for systematically attempting to sabotage the Affordable Care Act".
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The ACLU specifically argues that the rules violate the establishment clause and the equal protection clause of the Constitution by "authorizing and promoting religiously motivated and other discrimination against women seeking reproductive health care". We are encouraged by today's announcement.
"The constitutional protection of religious beliefs and the right to exercise those beliefs have served this country well, have made us one of the most tolerant countries in the world, and have also helped make us the freeist and most generous", Sessions said in a statement.
In a press call on Friday, Rienzi said such fears are unfounded.
"This was always a big, unnecessary and divisive culture war fight. They're widely available", he said.
That said, Mendelson said he worries the new rule will set a precedent for weakening ACA requirements that basic benefits be covered.
"The government already engages in dozens of programs that subsidize contraception for the low-income women", it said. It added that the exemptions will likely only have an impact for the roughly 200 employers that have filed lawsuits based on religious or moral objections.