Reports from several reliable sources indicate that HHS is planning to expand exemptions in order to opt out of providing birth control through their healthcare plans if they are religiously or morally against it. The proposed policy will eliminate one of the major provisions of Affordable Care Act, which requires all employees to help offer birth control. Reports say that exemptions will include non-profit and religious organizations.
HHS made plans to expand exceptions for allowing any company, which cites religious or moral objections. However, the agency refused to give any details on how many companies will be included in the latest proposal. The rulemaking has also given a pass to universities, colleges, and insurance companies with similar reasoning.
A draft executive order was earlier leaked by the Trump Administration expanding religious protections, which would make it a lot more easier for employees to refuse contraception coverage and roll back anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ individuals who are looking for healthcare services. The Trump Administration also added that the ACA mandate was not successful in lowering abortion or birth rates. However, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the birth rate in the country did fell to the lowest point last year.
On the other hand, a recent report submitted by the research group, Guttmacher Institute, revealed a significant decrease in abortion rate too (14.6 abortions per 1,000 women). Commenting on that, Gretchen Borchelt, VP of Reproductive Rights and Health at the National Women’s Law Center, said that more than hundreds of thousands of women in the country might still lose access to no-cost birth control coverage.
“Giving permission to employers and insurance companies for their religious or moral beliefs to override women’s access to basic healthcare, which is critical to their economic security, is a license to discriminate and an affront to all women,” Borchelt said.
Some of the Democratic lawmakers in the country also expressed their disagreement to this issue by stating that the rule might not allow women to make their own decision. According to the statement by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, “Every woman has the right to make her own intimate health decisions – and Democrats will never stop fighting to defend that right.”
The proposed rule by HHS was delivered to the Office of Management and Budget last month and the agency has about 90 days to review it before reaching a conclusion.