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Changes to Contraceptive Coverage

Trump Administration Tightens Contraception and Transgender Rights, While Expanding Religious Liberty.

President+Trump+making+remarks+prior+to+signing+executive+order+to+promote+health+care+choice+and+competition+on+Thursday%2C+Oct.+12%2C+2017
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Changes to Contraceptive Coverage

President Trump making remarks prior to signing executive order to promote health care choice and competition on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017

President Trump making remarks prior to signing executive order to promote health care choice and competition on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017

Tribune News Service

President Trump making remarks prior to signing executive order to promote health care choice and competition on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017

Tribune News Service

Tribune News Service

President Trump making remarks prior to signing executive order to promote health care choice and competition on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017

Anthony Karambelas, Staff Reporter

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Last Friday, a new mandate by the Department of Health and Human Services will remove contraception from health insurance coverage paid by faith-based employees.

Beginning with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, preventive care has remained an integral part of health insurance, including all contraceptives. Though this provision of the ACA explicitly excluded churches and houses of worship, it was still hotly debated by conservatives and religious groups.

Following the 2014 Hobby Lobby Case, the Supreme Court extended this exemption to corporate employers with “sincerely held religious beliefs.” This opinion of the court relied heavily on the assumption that female employees would continue to receive contraceptive coverage through their insurers.

Still, conservatives were not satisfied. Some employers claimed they felt “complicit in sin” paying for health insurance that covered contraception/abortifacient services. To appease religious liberty advocates, Trump jumpstarted a policy revision, protecting employers who had “conscience-based objections” toward providing Obamacare-compliant health insurance.

Government officials have downplayed the gravity of this new rule, reporting that out of the millions of U.S. employers, only 200 will be affected by the mandate. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, these 200 would include employers who filed lawsuits against insured contraception for religious or moral reasons.

The changes leave out contraceptive coverage provided by pre-Obamacare health insurance plans and community health centers.

Regarding transgender rights, the Justice Department has also declared its opinion that Title VII, the federal law that protects employees from discrimination, should not be used to defend gays, lesbians or transgender people. In a memo delivered to all federal prosecutors, Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote that the 1964 civil rights law prohibiting sex discrimination “encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity, per se, including transgender status.”

Further, Sessions said sex is defined as “biologically male or female.”

“Sessions argues that an employer can put a sign out that says ‘transgender need not apply’ and that laws that prohibit discrimination based on sex would not apply,” said Dr. Martin Adamian, professor of Political Science at Cal State LA.

This interpretation of the law reversed the opinion of previous Attorney General Eric Holder, who argued that the Civil Rights Act clearly protects transgender employees, citing an opinion by the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

“Just because the legislature did not consider transgender individuals when passing Title VII, the federal government should recognize, as the courts have, discrimination based on gender identity,” said Adamian.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “The new policy applies to any employer claiming a religious or moral objection to offering contraceptive coverage, including even publicly traded for-profit corporations with no evident religious or moral character.”

With new mandates and laws, controversy will inevitably follow. What happens next decides the future of that law.

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