SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A federal judge in Pennsylvania granted a motion Friday blocking President Donald Trump’s efforts to roll back access to birth control services under the Affordable Care Act.

In October, the Trump administration moved to expand the rights of employers to use religious and moral exemptions to deny women insurance coverage for contraception.

But on Friday, U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone ordered the administration not to carry out the moral and religious exemptions.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who filed the lawsuit against President Trump, said Friday on social media that the injunction was “A critical victory for millions of women and families…”

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said on social media Friday, that the exemptions attacked women’s access to basic health care and were a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

In the legal opinion released by Beetlestone on Friday, she notes that the Affordable Care Act’s Contraceptive Mandate has allowed women to access more effective forms of birth control.  She notes that Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) are more effective at preventing unintended pregnancies than the contraceptive pill, but that IUDs have greater upfront costs.

The Affordable Care Act made it so that female contraception was among the preventive services covered in full by health insurance policies, and with no patient co-pay.

Beetlestone writes that, according to expert testimony, since the mandate went into effect in 2012, IUD usage among women has increased dramatically.

Pennsylvania, Beetlestone points out, has a rate of unintended pregnancies at 53 percent, which is much higher than the national average. She said the injunction ensures that women who have chosen to receive contraceptive coverage through the Affordable Care Act will continue to have access to that coverage.

“The negative effects of even a short period of decreased access to no-cost contraceptive services are irreversible,” Beetlestone writes.

California, as well as Washington and Massachusetts have also sued the Trump administration in hopes of blocking the rules.

The ruling by a federal judge in Oakland on the California case is expected to be issued soon.

 

By Hannah Albarazi – Follow her on Twitter: @hannahalbarazi.

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