Pennsylvania Judge Blocks Trump Administration From Rolling Back Women’s Rights

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Judge Beetlestone of the Federal District Court in Philadelphia ruled it illegal for employers to drop birth control coverage for workers.
Tanya A. Christian Jan, 15, 2019

On Monday, just hours after a new law allowing employers in 37 states to opt out of providing birth control coverage for their workers took effect, a Pennsylvania Federal District Court judge put a kibosh on the White House’s plan to restrict responsible contraceptive access.

The ruling handed down by Judge Wendy Beetlestone is another setback for Donald Trump, who is eager to erase former President Barack Obama’s legacy and has been rolling back legislation he enacted during his time in office. Under the Affordable Care Act, employers were required to offer their workers birth control coverage at no additional cost.

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It quickly became a point of contention with religious groups claiming it went against their moral compass. Concessions were made for those who objected on those grounds, but Trump took it a step further by allowing employers to forgo coverage if they had a “moral” conflict.

On Monday Judge Bettlestone wrote, “The final rules estimate that at least 70,500 women will lose coverage,” adding that the large number would have serious consequences for states, including a rise in unintended pregnancies.

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Prior to Bettlestone’s decision, a federal judge in California granted a request by 13 states to block Trump’s new rule.

In that case, Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. echoed the concerns of Bettlestone, saying, “Women who lose their entitlement to cost-free contraceptives are less likely to use an effective method, or any method at all — resulting in unintended pregnancies,” He also added that more women would likely “turn to state programs to obtain no-cost contraceptives, at significant cost to the states.”

According to the New York Times, both the ruling in Pennsylvania and California are preliminary but judges expect that the states will prevail in their cases.