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California sues Trump over birth control mandate rollback

San Francisco, Oct 7 (IANS) California state has sued President Donald Trump’s administration arguing that its rollback of a requirement for employers to provide contraceptive coverage to workers is unconstitutional and unlawfully targets women, the media reported.

The lawsuit, filed in US District Court for the Northern District of California here on Friday, comes hours after the Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule change that allows more employers to opt out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) birth control mandate by claiming religious or moral objections, reports The San Francisco Chronicle.

Prior to this rule change, only houses of worship, religiously affiliated non-profits and some private companies with few shareholders could opt out of providing birth control coverage.

The new rule also allows publicly traded companies and all nonprofits and universities to take a religious exemption.

“…millions of women in California may be left without access to contraceptives and counseling and the state will be shouldering the additional fiscal and administrative burden as women seek access for this coverage through state-funded programmes,” The Los Angeles Times quoted the lawsuit as saying.

California is one of eight states that have passed laws mandating employer-based health plans to provide free birth control to workers in part to ensure coverage in case the ACA was repealed.

California’s law, the Contraceptive Coverage Equity Act, was passed in 2014.

Between 1996 and 2015, the percentage of private companies that offered self-insured plans grew from 29 per cent to 39 per cent, according to official data.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed more than two dozen legal actions challenging policy changes by Trump since the Republican entered the White House in January, reports The Los Angeles Times.

“Donald Trump wants businesses and corporations to control family planning decisions rather than a woman in consultation with her doctor… These anti-women’s health regulations prove once again that the Trump Administration is willing to trample on people’s rights,” he said.

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