ACLU To Sue Trump Administration Over Birth Control Coverage Rollback

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An opened package of birth control pills. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will file a lawsuit Friday against the Trump administration for its rollback of Obama-era regulations requiring employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. The lawsuit will be filed on behalf of the ACLU as well as Service Employee International Union-United Health Care Workers West (SEIU-UHW), one of the largest unions of hospital workers in the western United States.

Under the new rules set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Friday, employees could lose their insurance coverage for contraceptive health care if their employers demonstrate a religious or moral objection.

The ACLU lawsuit claims that these new rules violate the Establishment Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution by allowing religiously motivated and other discrimination against women seeking reproductive health care.

The HHS framed its contraception-mandate rollback in terms of religious liberty, claiming in a statement on Friday that the new rules "will not affect over 99.9% of the 165 million women in the United States."

SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan pushed back against that assertion in a Friday statement of his own, noting that the rollback of the ACA mandate would affect "untold numbers of women" and adding, "Apparently, ‘religious freedom’ to this administration is the freedom to allow bosses to make medical decisions for and discriminate against female employees."

The Trump administration's challenge to the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate quickly created a furor, with a #HandsOffMyBC hashtag going viral on Twitter.

One of just three states allowing women of any age to get birth control without a prescription, California has often been at the vanguard of the national fight for expanded access to reproductive care; Xavier Becerra, the state Attorney General, took to Twitter to defend the ACA's contraceptive mandate.