In a complete reversal of what was promised on the campaign trail, the Trump administration is continuing to hold up a key element of Obamacare. Namely, the contentious contraception mandate.
This requirement in the Affordable Care Act has caused many problems for religious groups who are morally opposed to providing birth control to their employees. As it stands right now on this issue, the Trump administration looks like Obama 2.0.
The Star Tribune reports:
The Justice Department has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for an additional 60 days to negotiate with East Texas Baptist University and several other religious schools and nonprofit groups objecting to a requirement to which they are morally opposed.
Several religious groups are dismayed and confused by the Trump administration’s move, including the Little Sisters of the Poor — a group of nuns — that fought the mandate for several years but expected an immediate reprieve under the GOP president. They believed either the Justice Department would halt its appeal in the case or the administration would seek a rules change from the Department of Health and Human Services.
East Texas Baptist University and other plaintiffs represented by the nonprofit law firm Becket are now asking the Justice Department to drop its appeal of a district-court ruling in their favor, allowing them permanent relief from the mandate.
Conservatives who oppose the birth control mandate on religious liberty grounds are bewildered by the move at a Justice Department headed by former Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who is well known for his conservative views.
As things stand now, it appears that Justice plans to continue defending the way the Obama administration applied the birth-control mandate, said Eric Rassbach, a Becket attorney.
“That just seems to be very contrary to what they’ve been saying publicly,” Rassbach said.
Yes, it is very contradictory to what they have said publicly. The religious groups in question were certain the promises from Trump regarding this requirement in the ACA would be swiftly dealt with, not supported.
Priests for Life were hopeful in January, as The Washington Times reported.
Pro-life advocates say they’re counting on Mr. Trump and Mr. Price to free religious nonprofits from the mandate requiring them to file a certification if they want to opt out of providing birth control for their employees.
“We are fully confident that Mr. Trump, Mr. Price and the entire new administration will act as swiftly as they can to bring this long saga to a conclusion,” said Father Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, a pro-life ministry that opposes emergency contraceptives it equates with abortion.
These groups, eager to be out from under a requirement which goes directly against their beliefs, will have to wait at least sixty more days while Trump’s Justice Department negotiates. Whatever that means.
That the Trump administration is wasting any time supporting this mandate is unacceptable. This is a matter of religious liberty, and what the current administration is doing now goes directly against that.
As Streiff wrote in February, a draft of Trump’s religious freedom order included the following:
It instructs the secretaries of health and human services, labor, and treasury to finally grant relief to the Little Sisters of the Poor and others who weren’t exempted from the Obamacare abortifacient and contraception mandate.
At the National Prayer Breakfast, President Trump even said he would defend religious liberty.
From what I’m seeing with this defense of the ACA contraception mandate, those were just words.
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