Appeals court blocks Trump administration birth control rules

A federal appeals court on Friday blocked Trump administration rules that would allow employers to deny workers insurance coverage for birth control due to religious or moral objections.

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's decision to block the rules from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), siding with the Democratic attorneys general of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The agency is expected to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) hailed the ruling on Friday as a legal win for access to birth control across the country.

Louise Melling, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), applauded the court for its decision, calling the rules “discriminatory.”

“Yet another court has stopped this administration from sanctioning discrimination under the guise of religion or morality,” Melling wrote in a statement. “The Trump administration’s rules authorized employers and universities to strip women of birth control coverage — a benefit guaranteed to them by law, and meant to advance their health and equality. We applaud the order to enjoin the enforcement of these discriminatory rules.”

The Trump administration’s rules, which were rolled out in 2017, aimed to exempt employers from an Obama-era mandate that required them to offer contraceptive health care coverage to employees with no co-pay.

Various religious groups, charitable organizations and other opponents of abortion rights had taken issue with the ObamaCare mandate.

Department of Justice spokeswoman Kelly Laco decried the ruling Friday, telling Reuters that “religious organizations should not be forced to violate their mission and deeply-held beliefs.”