By Ema O’Connor
The Trump administration released two rules Wednesday evening that would allow employers with “religious or moral” objections to providing insurance coverage for birth control to be exempt from providing that coverage.
The rules are amended versions of rules that the administration first released in October 2017. Several organizations quickly took the administration to court over the original rules, and they were blocked by two federal courts. If the new rules are not blocked by the courts again, they are scheduled to go into effect in mid-January 2019.
The Department of Health and Human Services appears to have tailored the rules (the final versions have not yet been posted to the federal register) in the hopes that this time they will stick. A memo pertaining to the rules stated that the new versions contained changes based on “public comments” made in the federal register in 2017. It was not immediately clear what those changes were.
But HHS also says the new rules will affect more women than it previously estimated. An HHS spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in 2017 that the previous versions of the rules were not expected to affect more than 120,000 women’s contraception coverage; they now estimate that “that no more than 126,400 women of childbearing age will be affected by the expanded exemptions,” the memo states. “As noted above, this is less than 0.1% of the over 165 million women in the United States.”
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