An Affordable Care Act mandate that required employee-provided health insurance plans to cover birth control is getting gutted by the Trump administration. This week, the Department of Health and Human Services issued final rules making it easier to restrict insurance coverage for birth control. The first rule allows an exemption of birth control coverage for employers that oppose birth control on religious or moral grounds. The secon rule protects nonprofits and small businesses that object to birth control coverage for non-religious, generic asshole reasons.

From the HHS press release (bolding ours):

Under the Affordable Care Act, employer-provided health insurance plans are required to cover certain “preventative services” – which were defined through guidance by the Obama Administration as including all contraception methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration, including methods viewed by many as abortifacients, and sterilization procedures.

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The press release also noted that, “The religious and moral exemptions provided by these rules also apply to institutions of education, issuers, and individuals.” However, “The Departments are not extending the moral exemption to publicly traded businesses, or either exemption to government entities.”

This is part of a pattern: under Trump, HHS is slowly eroding access to and information about comprehensive reproductive healthcare; it has shamelessly adopted anti-choice language and is giving credence to the false claim that birth control causes abortions.

Planned Parenthood has denounced the new rules, calling them “illegal” and “secretive.”

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“These unlawful rules could have far-reaching implications for the Affordable Care Act requirement to guarantee birth control coverage, which has benefitedmore than 62 million women, including 17 million Latina women and 15 million Black women,” wrote Planned Parenthood in a press release.

The National Women’s Law Center also released a statement, writing: If “the Administration thinks it can move these rules forward without a fight, they’re wrong. Countless women depend on this critical birth control coverage for their health and economic stability—and we will continue to fiercely defend them.”