President Donald Trump and his predominantly male administration proved once again on Friday that they are waging an increasingly hostile war against women.
Trump announced that he was rolling back Obama-era regulations that ensured employers would provide birth control privileges to women through their medical insurance offerings.
The rollback expands the rights of employers to deny women insurance coverage for contraceptives while provides sweeping guidance on religious freedom that benefits the Republican ideologue at the expense of women.
Trump promised five months ago that he would “not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.” By formulating a joint effort between the Department of Health and Human Services and the Justice Department, he is accomplishing that goal.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions quoted Trump’s exact words in issuing guidance to federal agencies and prosecutors, instructing them to take the position in court that workers, employers, and organizations may claim broad exemptions from nondiscrimination laws on the basis of religious objections.
The Department of Health and Human Services issued two rules rolling back a federal requirement that employers must include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. Companies can now roll back the inclusion of such prescriptions because of their own sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.
The change in policy could put the personal freedoms of 55 million women at risk by forcing them to pay the full cost for their birth control prescription.
Women’s rights groups had hailed President Obama’s move to ensure the Affordable Care Act would include birth control coverage, reducing the barrier required to obtain the medication.
Immediately following President Trump’s ill-advised rollback, a lawsuit was filed by Maura Healey, the attorney general of Massachusetts and Xavier Becerra of California. The lawsuits hope to slow the rollbacks progress which went into effect immediately.
Both lawsuits claim the President’s order violates the First Amendment which bars government action “respecting an establishment of religion.”
Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said the rules provide “religious liberty” to his constituents, although he didn’t speak to the rights of those people who are not being discriminated against because of their gender.
Destroying The Civil Rights Act Of 1964
Attorney General Jess Sessions, in issuing his guidance, reversed the Justice Department’s position on a related issue: whether a ban on workplace discrimination on the basis of “sex” in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 encompasses discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Obama argued that it does cover transgender people while Mr. Sessions said the department should take the position in court that it does not.
For years, conservative religious individuals and businesses have argued that they should be able to hire and fire people based on their sexual preference and religious beliefs.
The Trump administration used the rollback to remind insurers that they can not use federal funds to provide abortions to women who become pregnant because of their lack of access to birth control. Yes, you heard that right.
In case you haven’t been keeping track. Trump has made it harder for women to acquire birth control and has fought to make abortion illegal. If women do become pregnant because of his policies and must carry a child to birth in the future, their access to affordable health care is also at risk.
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