Attorneys General are Suing the Trump Administration to Protect Birth Control Access

GOP lawmakers in Congress haven’t been able to make good on President Trump’s campaign promise to undo the gains made under the Affordable Care Act—and in response, the Trump administration is doing all it can to dismantle the healthcare bill from the executive wing. After a string of sexist attempts to repeal and replace the ACA—all of which took aim at women’s access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare—Trump announced new rules last week watering-down contraceptive access under the law.

Trump’s new rules widen loopholes for employers and insurers to block contraceptive access for employees and enrollees on the basis of “religious freedom”—effectively giving businesses and insurance companies license to discriminate against women and deny them critical care. Feminist leaders were swift to fight back—and so were Attorneys General in four states. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, California Attorney General Xaxier Becerra and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson are suing the Trump administration over the new rules.

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“The Trump administration’s actions today are a direct attack on women’s health and the right to access affordable and reliable contraception,” AG Healey said in a statement after Trump’s announcement last week. “My office has been vigilant when it comes to fighting for health care coverage and ensuring equality in the workplace, and I sued the Trump administration today to stop this rule and defend critical protections for millions of women in Massachusetts and across the country.” Her complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, would stop the federal government from enforcing the new rule and alleges that it is an unconstitutional policy that denies women equal protection under the law.

AG Shapiro agrees. “The federal government—under the direction of the Trump administration—broke the law and undermined the health and economic independence of American women,” Shapiro said at a news conference last week. “I filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop them.”

AG Ferguson—who previously succeeded in a legal challenge to Trump’s Muslim ban earlier this year—called the rules “unfair, unlawful and unconstitutional” when announcing Washington’s lawsuit Monday. In a statement, his office explained that the rules violate the First Amendment by requiring women to “bear the burdens of religions to which they do not belong,” as well as the equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment and portions of the Civil Rights Act. “I refuse to let President Trump disregard our laws and our constitution,” he added, “in an effort to deny women access to contraception.” Ferguson filed his suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington and is also seeking to block the new rules.

“Trump wants businesses and corporations to control family planning decisions rather than a woman in consultation with her doctor,” AG Becerra said after filing his own suit on Friday. “These anti-women’s health regulations prove once again that the Trump administration is willing to trample on people’s rights.”

A report released last year by the Obama administration found that 55 million women nationwide benefited from the free birth control initiative. A study this year found that a majority of Americans support the Affordable Care Act, including its benefits for women. Over the course of their lifetime, the ACA birth control benefit—which required that employers and insurers cover contraception without co-pay—saves women thousands of dollars. 

Lynn Rosado is an editorial intern at Ms. She studied at California State University, Northridge, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism.

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