A federal judge in Philadelphia has granted Pennsylvania’s bid for an injunction against the Trump administration’s rules easing the contraceptive coverage mandate under the Affordable Care Act.
U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania halted the so-called moral exemption rule and the religious exemption rule, which allow employers to opt out of offering no-cost contraceptive coverage based on sincerely-held religious beliefs or moral convictions. The federal defendants argued the rules are intended to permit a small number of religious objectors to opt out of covering birth control because the requirement would impose a substantial burden on their religious practices. But Pennsylvania argued the exemptions would allow almost any employer to withhold insurance coverage for contraceptives, impacting millions of Americans.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s action was supported by a coalition of 19 state attorneys general.
Beetlestone ruled Friday that Pennsylvania had shown a likelihood of success on its claim the new regulations are arbitrary, capricious and contrary to established law. She found the policies, if enacted, could cause imminent fiscal harm to the commonwealth and that potential harm to woman in Pennsylvania and across the nation is “enormous and irreversible.”
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who was part of the coalition, in announcing the ruling, tweeted that, “Our brief was crystal clear: in attacking women’s access to basic health care,
@POTUS violated the Equal Protection Clause and Establishment Clauses. “