A federal judge in California has granted a preliminary injunction to 13 states and Washington, D.C. that will prevent employers from opting out of providing no-cost birth control to employees based on religious or moral objections.
Though the Affordable Care Act mandates that employers cover contraception, in 2017, the Trump administration attempted to undermine that mandate by allowing exemptions for certain employers—including publicly traded companies and some private employers—who claimed providing such coverage would conflict with their religious or moral beliefs. Under the Obama-era rules, only religious organizations could be offered such exemptions.
A handful of states, including California, sued to block the new rules from taking effect, and according to the Associated Press, on Sunday Judge Haywood Gilliam agreed to the injunction while the lawsuit moves forward. Per NBC News, the injunction only applies to the 13 states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington state) and Washington, D.C.; Gilliam declined to block the rules from taking place nationwide, despite noting on Friday that the new rules would cause a “substantial number” of women to lose their birth control coverage. The new rules will go into effect in 37 states on Monday.
A 2015 study found that women spent an average of $255 on birth control pills annually, and that the ACA’s birth control mandate collectively saves women an estimated $1.4 billion on oral contraception per year. IUDs, which, according to Planned Parenthood, can cost up to $1300, are also included in the coverage mandate.
Gilliam was previously one of two federal judges who blocked the Trump rules shortly after they were announced. Though the Department of Justice appealed the decisions, an appeals court ruled to uphold the injunction last month.