A federal judge in Pennsylvania has blocked the Trump administration’s new rule on Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate that exempts employers with religious or moral objections to providing contraception and abortion-inducing drugs and devices to employees through health insurance plans.
— AG Josh Shapiro (@PAAttorneyGen) December 15, 2017
U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone, an Obama appointee, said Friday that the state was “likely to suffer serious and irreparable harm” if she did not order a preliminary injunction.
Beetlestone’s order follows a lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who posted on Twitter the ruling was a “critical victory for millions of women and families and for the rule of law”:
BREAKING: A critical victory for millions of women and families and for the rule of law. https://t.co/JLkvP5Fhmr
— Josh Shapiro (@JoshShapiroPA) December 15, 2017
Among the faith organizations affected by the ruling are the Little Sisters of the Poor – who minister to the elderly poor.
The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) is also affected by Beetlestone’s nationwide preliminary injunction.
“This is a shameful ruling that seeks to continue the Obama-era assault on conscience rights and religious liberty,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser in a statement sent to Breitbart News. “Why should Catholic nuns who care for the elderly poor be forced by the government to provide abortion-inducing drugs in their health care plans?”
“Moreover, moral objectors like my own pro-life organization, SBA List, should not have to pay for life-ending drugs that are antithetical to our mission,” Dannenfelser continued. “There is absolutely no ‘compelling state interest’ in forcing pro-life employers to violate their consciences to provide abortion-inducing drugs. We thank President Trump for standing up for conscience rights and religious liberty and are confident the Administration will fight this ridiculous ruling.”
In early October, the Trump administration announced a new rule that protects the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious non-profits from being coerced by the federal government to provide services in their healthcare plans that violate their faith beliefs.
The new rule provides full protection for Americans with religious beliefs and moral convictions and acknowledges that the contraceptive mandate concerns serious issues of moral concern, including those involving human life.
However, the Trump administration leaves free contraception in place for the vast majority of women since the new rule only covers moral and religious objections.
Former Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius – an abortion activist – and bureaucrats in her department inserted the mandate into Obamacare. Following objections by many religious employers to the requirements of the mandate, the Obama administration devised “accommodations” that only gave the appearance the religious groups would not be either footing the bill for, or passively approving of, the federal government’s mandate of the offensive contraceptive drugs and sterilization procedures.
Left-wing groups such as Planned Parenthood claim women should obtain free birth control and that the Trump administration is forcing women to pay for their own birth control when they choose to have sex. The Obama administration itself, however, actually exempted from its own rule at least 25 million Americans – including large corporations such as Chevron, Exxon, Visa, and Pepsi Bottling, as well as the U.S. military and large cities like New York City – through various exemption allowances, with little pushback from the left.
“We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied, or silenced anymore,” President Donald Trump said during the National Day of Prayer event in May. “We will never, ever stand for religious discrimination. No American should be forced to choose between the dictates of the federal government and the tenets of their faith.”
The case is Pennsylvania v. Trump, No. 2:17-cv-4540 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.