WASHINGTON—The Trump administration is poised to issue a rule unwinding an Obama -era requirement that employee health benefits include contraception, which will spark a fresh round of litigation over an issue that has been before courts for six years.

Federal health officials are expected to finalize a regulation that would allow employers with religious or moral objections to birth control to omit coverage for contraception from their workers’ plans, according to two people familiar with its contents. The regulation closely mirrors an earlier, leaked draft, they said.

The Supreme Court has ruled, in a case brought by the arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby, that “closely held” private companies can invoke religious objections to avoid covering contraception.

The Trump administration rule would allow a much broader set of employers to opt out of offering coverage for birth control, making moot a “workaround’’ designed by the Obama administration that allowed women in some cases to obtain coverage even if their employers had declined to offer it directly.

The rule would fulfill a promise by President Donald Trump to social conservatives, who backed his candidacy but have been frustrated by the pace of his administration has moved to address one of their most significant grievances.

Based on early indications, the expected rule “would go a very long way to restoring religious freedom and conscience rights,” said Hillary Byrnes, assistant general counsel at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

She said the rule couldn’t come soon enough. “We’ve been dealing with this mandate for over six years now,” she said. “A lot of people thought the administration would do something pretty quickly, yet here we are in August.”

Reproductive-rights activists say they will sue the Trump administration if it moves ahead with the rule, arguing that the change would unfairly impose employers’ beliefs on their workers and that the administration has cut regulatory corners in writing the policy.

“We are preparing various different legal theories to fight the rule very quickly,” said Mara Gandal-Powers, senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, an advocacy group. “We think we have a really strong claim.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment.

As a presidential candidate, Mr. Trump pledged support for Catholics and evangelical Christians who sued President Barack Obama and his top officials over the contraception requirement, contending that it forced them to violate their religious beliefs.

They also opposed a process, which the Obama administration dubbed an accommodation, in which an employer notifies the government of its unwillingness to cover contraceptives. That prompts the insurer administering the employer’s health benefits to assume the cost and administration of providing contraceptives, effectively cutting out the employer.

Religious employers challenged the policy in court, saying it made them complicit in a sin. The Supreme Court last year sent the case back to lower courts.

The Trump administration plans to offer the plaintiffs precisely what they sought: an exemption from the contraception requirement for all employers who want one, according to people familiar with the plan, ending the need for litigation.

Others regard the expected rule as a step back in a decadeslong fight to secure women’s access to contraceptive care.

Lawyers preparing potential legal cases for opponents of the change say that if the rule resembles the leaked draft, the policy could qualify as sex discrimination, since it would disproportionately affect women’s health care. They also plan to argue that leaving a decision on contraceptive coverage to employers could amount to religious discrimination by subjecting workers to the beliefs of their employers.

“If the rule says any employer can withhold this benefit from employees, then you have a whole set of questions about whether the government is enabling employers to impose their beliefs on others,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union.

People familiar with the proposed rule say the Trump administration plans for it to take effect as it is published. Nicholas Bagley, a University of Michigan law professor who has analyzed much of the health-law litigation of the last six years, has said that could open the administration to lawsuits for implementing the rule without time for public comment and consideration.

“The argument they make is, ‘We’ve thoroughly vetted this issue, and we’re only making a minor change,’” he said. “If that was true, that argument would hold water. But that’s not true in this case.”

Write to Michelle Hackman at Michelle.Hackman@wsj.com and Louise Radnofsky at louise.radnofsky@wsj.com

Appeared in the August 17, 2017, print edition as ‘Contraceptive Rule to Be Reversed.’

Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence attends a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S. November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Thousands of people have made donations to Planned Parenthood in the name of Vice President-elect Mike Pence, an abortion opponent, so that he will receive official acknowledgements from the women’s health care provider, the group said on Tuesday.

The idea of making donations in Pence’s name arose and spread on social media as a protest after Republican Donald Trump won his bid for the U.S. presidency in a surprise victory last week.

Both Trump and Pence, his running mate, have pledged to curtail women’s rights to abortion. Trump said the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Roe v Wade legalizing abortion should be overturned and that he would appoint an anti-abortion justice to the nation’s highest court.

Trump also said women who had abortions should be punished but later said it was doctors who perform abortions who should be punished.

Pence, whose home state of Indiana has restrictive laws regulating access to abortion, has pushed for Congress to defund the nonprofit Planned Parenthood, which performs some abortions.

A number of celebrities have publicized the donation campaign in Pence’s name with posts on social media, including Emmy Award-winning comedian Amy Schumer and actresses Ashley Hinshaw, Jaime Perry and Amber Tamblyn.

They said their donations to Planned Parenthood included the address of Pence’s office in Indiana so it would get the acknowledgement that Planned Parenthood mails to donors.

At least 20,000 people who have donated money since the U.S. election on Nov. 8 named Pence as donor, out of 160,000 people overall, a Planned Parenthood spokesman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Planned Parenthood has reported a surge in donations and demand for long-acting contraceptives since Trump’s election.

Pence signed a law this year that would have banned abortions due to genetic abnormality, criminalized collection of fetal tissue for research, required fetal tissue be buried or cremated and made women look at their fetal ultrasounds before getting an abortion.

A federal judge blocked the law in June.

Pence’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Planned Parenthood, which has more than 650 health centers nationwide, relies on public funding for about 40 percent of its funding. Private donations comprise about one quarter of its revenue, it said in its 2016 annual report.


Source: Reuters


President-elect said he would stick to his anti-immigration and border wall policies in interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes programme which is due to air later today

DONALD Trump admitted he is prepared to make women travel hundreds of miles for an abortion in a shock first interview.

The President-elect was speaking from his opulent New York apartment for the first time since sweeping to the White House last week.

And he told worried Americans: “Don’t be afraid.”

In a wide-ranging interview the 70-year-old businessman said:

  • His plans for abortion law could see the practice banned in some states.
  • He will “immediately deport” up to three million illegal immigrants.
  • Gay marriage laws are “fine” with him.
  • Barack Obama had “a great sense of humour” in the pair’s meeting last week.

But it was his pro-life comments to host Lesley Stahl that provided most shock on CBS’ 60 Minutes Show.

Trump vowed to appoint pro-life Supreme Court judges – a move that could see a key piece of US law overturned.

Roe v Wade means all US states have to allow abortion.

If the 1973 law was dismissed, it would see states re-take the right to make their own abortion law.

Following the revelation, a shocked Stahl asked Trump: “But then some women won’t be able to get an abortion?”
Trump replied: “Yeah, well, they’ll perhaps have to go, they’ll have to go to another state.”

He later appeared to backtrack by adding there is “a long way to go”.

Trump also used the interview to insist he will “immediately” deport up to three million illegal immigrants.

During his successful bid for the White House he had called Mexicans “rapists” and “criminals”.

The President-elect said he would kick out those who had criminal records and insisted he would build a wall on the US’ southern border.

He added:  “What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate.”

But despite his startling words, Trump urged Americans to have faith in him following his surprise election triumph.

He said: “Don’t be afraid. We are going to bring our country back. But certainly, don’t be afraid. You know, we just had an election and sort of like you have to be given a little time.

“I mean, people are protesting. If Hillary had won and if my people went out and protested, everybody would say, ‘Oh, that’s a terrible thing.’

“And it would have been a much different attitude. There is a different attitude. You know, there is a double standard here.”

The 70-year-old later pledged to leave same-sex marriage law alone.

He added: “It’s done. It – you have – these cases have gone to the Supreme Court. They’ve been settled. And I’m – I’m fine with that.”

Trump met with outgoing President Barack Obama on Thursday after a bitter build-up to the election in which the two men traded personal insults.

But he insisted the 90-minute meeting between the two was productive and praised Obama’s “great sense of humour”.

The former Apprentice host even admitted he is considering keeping some part of the President’s landmark healthcare programme.

He said: “I mean it was – just – in fact, it was almost hard breaking it up because we had so many things to say.

“And he told me – the good things and the bad things, there are things that are tough right now.

“We never discussed what was said about each other.

“And that’s strange. I’m actually surprised to tell you that. It’s – you know, a little bit strange.”


Source: The Sun

In a report from The Hill, the Republican nominee sent a letter to anti-abortion leaders dated “September 2016,” calling on them to join his campaign’s “Pro-Life Coalition.” This group would be lead by Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion non-profit organization. The letter lays out a tougher stance than we’ve seen from Trump up to this point.

Most notably, he commits to making the Hyde Amendment permanent law, “to protect taxpayers from having to pay for abortions.” But as Rebecca Traister at The Cut points out, this will limit many women’s ability to have control over their health choices. Traister writes:

“The Hyde Amendment means that American women—many of them women of color—who cannot afford health insurance are effectively prevented from availing themselves of a legal medical procedure that is their right and that is fundamental to their ability to exert autonomy over their reproductive lives and thus their economic and familial futures.”


Trump also compares his stance on abortion to that of his opponent Hillary Clinton, who supports the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, a move that the Democratic Party laid out in its platform earlier this summer. Trump’s letter also correctly notes that Clinton is committed to appointing pro-choice justices, but falsely claims that Clinton supports abortion until an hour before birth. In addition to making Hyde permanent law, Trump’s letter says he would sign the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that bans abortions after 20 weeks, and that Planned Parenthood would be defunded if it continued to perform abortions.


Source:  http://www.glamour.com/story/donald-trump-anti-abortion-stance