According to a leaked draft of a regulation obtained by Vox, President Donald Trump will no longer force employers to foot the bill for contraception, including sterilization and the morning-after pill, if they have moral or religious objections to it – a major victory for religious liberty.
The Trump regulation states that the Health and Human Services mandate added to Obamacare, which forced employers to pay for employees' contraception, would be massively reigned in, allowing any employer to request exemption from the mandate due to moral or religious reasons.
This is a huge step forward for religious liberty: government force will no longer mandate that a person violate their conscience to provide something to which they are morally or religiously opposed.
Under the Obama mandate, only houses of worship were exempt from compliance. As noted by The Associated Press, the Supreme Court, via the famous Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case, "later ruled that closely held private companies were also eligible for the workaround, through which the government arranges contraceptive coverage for the affected women employees."
The White House has called the 100-plus-page document obtained by Vox an "alleged draft," adding that the contraception mandate is still under final review.
Still, there is good reason to believe Trump will broaden the scope of employers eligible to request noncompliance of the mandate. Just last month, for instance, the president met with nuns from the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic charity that challenged the Obama Administration in court for years over the birth control mandate; Trump called them up to the front The Price is Right-style and lamented the "attacks" against them. The president signed a religious liberty executive order which gave the sisters "regulatory relief" from the mandate.
"We know, all too well, the attacks against the Little Sisters of the Poor," said Trump. "Incredible nuns who care for the sick, the elderly and the forgotten.”
Trump also promised a full repeal-and-replace of Obamacare during the 2016 campaign, which conservatives interpreted as, at the very least, including slashing unconstitutional mandates.
Proponents of religious liberty were cautiously pleased with the report.
"A change in the rule is welcome and good," said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the group that legally represented the Little Sisters of the Poor against the Obama mandate. "I hope that the leaked draft we're looking at obviously becomes law."
But, as argued by National Review's Alexandra DeSanctis, while widening the exemption to the mandate is a good start, ridding the mandate all together would be ideal:
"Trump should instruct his HHS department to roll back the mandate in its entirety, as he has repeatedly promised to do, ending this disastrous exercise in executive overreach. If he does, it will restore much-needed balance to this issue and, just like the Left is clamoring for, de-politicize it."
As you might suspect, feminists are already pulling out their pink hair and planning the next Seneca Falls Convention due to the "huge blow" to women's rights. Some left-wing groups are already threatening lawsuits against the Trump Administration.
"If this rule is made final, we will file a lawsuit," said Gretchen Borchelt, a top official at National Women's Law Center. "Women are going to lose no-cost birth control coverage under this rule."