Not long after it was announced that President Donald Trump’s administration established a new rule allowing “employers to opt out of including birth control in their health insurance plans for any moral or religious reason,” the American Civil Liberties Union announced it would file a lawsuit.
The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of members of the ACLU and Service Employee International Union-United Health Care Workers West (SEIU-UHW), aims to challenge the stipulations set forth by the new ruling. Both ACLU members and those in SEIU-UHW say they “are at risk of losing their contraception coverage because of where they work or where they go to school,” according to the ACLU’s press release.
A ruling allowing employers to opt out of all contraception in their health insurance offerings based on “sincerely held religious or moral objection” muddies the waters the Obama-era requirement kept clean. The Obamacare mandate required birth control to be covered with no co-pay, as it was a preventive service. Many women, who were previously receiving contraception at no cost, are now directly affected. Policy experts say “that this could open the door to hundreds of employers dropping coverage,” according to CNN.
“For instance, there are hundreds of Catholic hospitals, nursing homes and nonprofits that may want to stop providing contraceptives,” said Tim Jost, emeritus professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law, to the publication.
The administration said on Thursday night that covering birth control was a “substantial burden” and that it promoted “risky sexual behavior.” Speaker Paul Ryan sent out a statement on Friday afternoon that expressed his satisfaction with the ruling because it ensured “people and organizations can freely live out their religious convictions and moral beliefs.”
In the ACLU’s filing, they’re arguing that the interim 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.”
“The Trump Administration is forcing women to pay for their boss’s religious beliefs,” said ACLU senior staff attorney Brigitte Amiri in the release. “We’re filing this lawsuit because the federal government cannot authorize discrimination against women in the name of religion or otherwise.”