Appeals court blocks Trump's attempt to allow firms to deny insurance coverage for birth control on moral grounds

A federal appeals court has blocked Trump administration rules that would allow companies to deny insurance coverage for birth control if employers had religious or moral objections.

The appeal was brought by the Democrat attorneys general of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and saw the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals uphold a lower court’s decision on Friday.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had described the rules - rolled out in 2017 - as an attempt to “sanction discrimination under the guise of religion or morality.”

The Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) is expected to appeal.

Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro called it a win for access to birth control across the United States.

Louise Melling, the deputy legal director of the ACLU, said: “The Trump administration’s rules authorised employers and universities to strip women of birth control coverage — a benefit guaranteed to them by law, and meant to advance their health and equality. We applaud the order to enjoin the enforcement of these discriminatory rules.”

An Obama-era mandate required employers to offer contraceptive health care coverage to employees with no co-pay.

But some religious groups, charities, and opponents of abortion rights had criticised the mandate.

Department of Justice spokeswoman Kelly Laco stood by the Trump administration push, saying: “Religious organisations should not be forced to violate their mission and deeply-held beliefs.”

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