Donald Trump is About to Gut Obamacare’s Free Birth Control

The administration would let virtually any company ditch contraception from its insurance coverage.

Olivier Douliery/AP

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that federal health officials are set to finalize a new rule weakening Obamacare’s mandate that employers provide free contraception in insurance plans. The new rule will allow employers with religious or moral objections to ditch birth control coverage in employee insurance plans. 

Two sources familiar with the imminent rule told the Wall Street Journal that the final rule closely resembles a draft that was leaked to Vox in June. The wording in that leaked draft is such that, in practice, virtually any employer, not just an expressly religious organization, would be able to remove birth control coverage if contraception violates the organization’s “moral convictions”—a broad and murky standard.

In fact, a study released earlier this month by the left-leaning Center for American Progress (CAP) confirmed that for-profit companies have already sought to exploit an existing exemption for religious employers—an accommodation that is much narrower than the one soon to be finalized by the Trump administration. That exemption came out of Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby, the 2014 Supreme Court decision that allowed religious, for-profit companies to apply for a religious accommodation from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to be exempted from the contraceptive mandate. Through a Freedom of Information Act request to HHS, CAP found that more than half of the 45 requests for such accommodations came from for-profit companies, and many came from companies in industries that don’t explicitly deal with religion, including construction, agriculture, real estate, and tax services. 

“The data suggest that Trump’s new rule could open up the floodgates for nearly anyone to force women to either pay out of pocket or navigate hurdles to obtaining additional coverage for contraception,” said Jamila Taylor, senior fellow at CAP, in a press release. “President Donald Trump and [HHS] Secretary Tom Price are, in effect, saying to women that any employer’s personal views can decide whether or not you get birth control.”

GREAT JOURNALISM, SLOW FUNDRAISING

Our team has been on fire lately—publishing sweeping, one-of-a-kind investigations, ambitious, groundbreaking projects, and even releasing “the holy shit documentary of the year.” And that’s on top of protecting free and fair elections and standing up to bullies and BS when others in the media don’t.

Yet, we just came up pretty short on our first big fundraising campaign since Mother Jones and the Center for Investigative Reporting joined forces.

So, two things:

1) If you value the journalism we do but haven’t pitched in over the last few months, please consider doing so now—we urgently need a lot of help to make up for lost ground.

2) If you’re not ready to donate but you’re interested enough in our work to be reading this, please consider signing up for our free Mother Jones Daily newsletter to get to know us and our reporting better. Maybe once you do, you’ll see it’s something worth supporting.

payment methods

GREAT JOURNALISM, SLOW FUNDRAISING

Our team has been on fire lately—publishing sweeping, one-of-a-kind investigations, ambitious, groundbreaking projects, and even releasing “the holy shit documentary of the year.” And that’s on top of protecting free and fair elections and standing up to bullies and BS when others in the media don’t.

Yet, we just came up pretty short on our first big fundraising campaign since Mother Jones and the Center for Investigative Reporting joined forces.

So, two things:

1) If you value the journalism we do but haven’t pitched in over the last few months, please consider doing so now—we urgently need a lot of help to make up for lost ground.

2) If you’re not ready to donate but you’re interested enough in our work to be reading this, please consider signing up for our free Mother Jones Daily newsletter to get to know us and our reporting better. Maybe once you do, you’ll see it’s something worth supporting.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate