President Donald Trump's administration rolled back some major Affordable Care Act birth control regulations, making it possible for some employers to opt out of providing it in their health care plans.
Former President Barack Obama's mandate required insurance plans to offer birth control as a preventative service that does not require a copay. Trump's revision to the law will enable employers to withhold contraceptive coverage if they have a "sincerely held religious or moral objection," explained U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials on Oct. 6, reports CNN.
"We should have space for organizations to live out their religious ideas and not face discrimination because of their religious ideas," said one unnamed official, according to BBC News.
Some HHS officials pointed to a study saying that women who take contraception are more likely to engage in "risky sexual behavior," while other officials said the new regulations would only impact a tiny percentage of women, with 99.9 percent unaffected, reports CNN.
While some questioned whether this move would hurt women by making it difficult to obtain contraception that can be costly and medically necessary, others praised the administration for taking a stand for "religious freedom."
"Birth control is not controversial -- it's health care the vast majority of women will use in the course of their lifetime," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement, according to CNN. "Nine out of ten women of reproductive age will use birth control in their lifetime. This administration is carrying out a full-scale attack on birth control. We cannot allow President Trump to roll back the progress women have made over the past century."
House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, called the occasion "a landmark day for religious liberty," praising the administration for allowing people to "freely live out their religious convictions and moral beliefs," according to The New York Times.
"The constitutional protection of religious beliefs and the right to exercise those beliefs have served this country well, have made us one of the most tolerant countries in the world, and have also helped make us the freest and most generous," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement, according to CNN. "President Trump promised that this administration would 'lead by example on religious liberty,' and he is delivering on that promise."
The new mandates come after the president issued an executive order in May vowing to allow churches and other organizations more leeway when it comes to publicly voicing and acting on political matters and their convictions.
"We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore," Trump said at the time, notes KTLA. "And we will never, ever stand for religious discrimination. Never, ever."