Judge blocks Trump administration rollback of birth-control coverage mandate

Packs of birth control pills
Several other states have also sued to block the new contraceptive coverage rules. (Getty/areeya_ann)

A federal court has blocked the Trump administration from implementing two rules that would have significantly scaled back the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage mandate. 

In an order issued Friday, a judge for the U.S. Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted the state’s request for a preliminary injunction against the rules and enjoined the administration from implementing them pending a further order of the court.

The new rules were released in October and would essentially open the door for a wider swath of employers to be exempt from the ACA’s requirement to cover contraceptives. The Trump administration and some organizations see the current mandate, even with the exceptions it allows for some companies, as an infringement on religious liberty. 

In her opinion granting Pennsylvania’s request to halt the rules, Judge Wendy Beetlestone sides with the state’s contention that the regulations are contrary to the public interest. The commonwealth, she wrote, “is likely to suffer serious and irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction” to block the rules. 

Several other states have also sued to block the rules, which are one of several regulatory steps the Trump administration has taken to erode the ACA.