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October 11, 2017

Pennsylvania sues Trump administration over new birth control rules

Employers are no longer required to cover preventative health care services

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro sued the Trump Administration on Wednesday, challenging its rollback of an Obamacare mandate that requires insurance companies to cover birth control without a co-pay.

The regulations announced by the administration last week allows employers and insurers to opt out of covering preventative health care services, including birth control, on religious or moral grounds.

RELATED STORY: Critics say Trump birth control rule ignores science

Under the new rules, some 2.5 million Pennsylvania women might have to pay more for their health care, said Shapiro, who announced the lawsuit at a Planned Parenthood health center in Philadelphia.

"Previously, exceptions to this mandate were extremely narrow," Shapiro said in a statement. "Now, as a result of these new rules, virtually any employer can refuse to provide coverage for contraceptive services for their employees, who will now have to pay more for health care."

The lawsuit claims the new rules deny women equal protection under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment and violate the First Amendment by elevating employers' religious beliefs over the constitutional rights of women. 

It also alleges the regulations violate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Administrative Procedure Act.

"As a result of these abuses, which replace evidence-based science and medical reasoning with political calculation, millions of women could be penalized and denied needed contraceptive care against the advice of science, public health and medical professionals," Shapiro said. "They violated the rule of law in the way in which they promulgated this regulation, and today we filed this suit to stop them."

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 

Other states, including Washington and California, also have sued the Trump administration over the new rules.