Washington sues Trump administration over birth control rollback

By Danielle Haynes  |  Oct. 9, 2017 at 8:50 PM
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Oct. 9 (UPI) -- The state of Washington on Monday sued the Trump administration over its decision last week to do away with the Affordable Care Act's mandate that employers offer birth control coverage in their health plans.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the new rules "are unfair, unlawful and unconstitutional."

"I refuse to let President [Donald] Trump disregard our laws and our Constitution in an effort to deny women access to contraception," he said in a statement.

On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services said employers no longer had to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. Companies are required under the Affordable Care Act to offer contraception coverage. Under the new rules, companies and insurers need only cite a moral or religious objection in order to opt out of the Obama-era federal rule requiring birth control be covered for free for all women.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Friday that the rule stems from President Trump's support of freedom of religion.

"The president believes that the freedom to practice one's faith is a fundamental right in this country," she said, adding that the Supreme Court "validated this decision many times over."

Ferguson said the move by the HHS violates the First Amendment as well as the Civil Rights Act.

"The rules violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by requiring individuals to bear the burdens of religions to which they do not belong," he said. "For example, the rules permit a for-profit business to impose the costs of its owner's anti-contraception beliefs on employees who do not share those beliefs."

This isn't the first lawsuit the Trump administration faces over the move. On Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union also sued over First Amendment violations.

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