The mandate for free contraceptive coverage was instituted by former President Barack Obama in 2012 via the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and has been a consistent point of controversy with employers who object to it on religious grounds.
On its website, The White House Office of Management and Budget said it's reviewing an "interim final rule" that would allow religious employers to deny their workers birth control coverage.
If this goes into effect, employers would immediately be able to opt out of providing birth control coverage for their employees.
In response to this development, Gretchen Borchelt, vice president of the National Women's Law Center, a nonprofit advocacy group, said,
We think whatever the rule is, it will allow an employer's religious beliefs to keep birth control away from women. We are sure that some women will lose birth control coverage.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi reportedly described this move as "sickening," adding, "The draft rule announced today attempts to tear away women's control over their own private health decisions and put that control in the hands of employers and politicians."
Democrats in Congress have pledged to fight this, given the Obama-era mandate guarantees coverage to more than 55 million women.
In its first year, the mandate saved women $1.4 billion on birth control pills and has contributed to the lowest abortion rate in the US since Roe v. Wade in 1973 (the landmark Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal).
Republicans have repeatedly made it clear they're vehemently pro-life, but the Trump administration is poised to revoke a rule that has contributed to a reduction in abortions, which is arguably extremely nonsensical.
Nancy Northup, president and chief executive officer of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said,
Without health coverage of contraception under the [Obamacare], countless women will lose their basic right to prevent pregnancy and plan when they have children. Plain and simple: President Trump's executive order will hurt women. And the Center for Reproductive Rights is ready to fight back in court.
Long story short, while Obama made it much easier to obtain birth control, Trump seems determined to attack reproductive rights.
As Dana Singiser, vice president for public policy and government relations at Planned Parenthood, put it in a statement on this development,
This rule would mean women across the country could be denied insurance coverage for birth control on a whim from their employer or university. It makes a farce of the Trump administration's so-called 'women's empowerment' agenda and endangers a woman's ability to make the most basic and personal of decisions – when and if to have a child. It would expand the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling to allow any employer – including huge, publicly traded companies – to deny birth control coverage to their employees. Think about it: Under this rule, bosses will be able to impose their personal beliefs on their female employees' private medical decisions. This is the latest in a long line of attacks on women's health we've seen from this administration. Birth control is essential for women's health and lives, and should never be a decision made by a woman's employer.
It's clear women's rights groups and Democrats will definitely do whatever they can to stand in the president's way on this issue.