President Donald Trump’s administration announced new religious exemptions from the HHS contraception mandate on Friday. The original mandate, which was put in place by the Obama administration, stated that businesses and nonprofit organizations must provide their employees with birth control pills and other contraceptives through their company insurance.
Under the new exemptions, for-profit companies, as well as non-profit organizations and some colleges and universities, can now file for an exemption to the mandate on religious grounds.
The move is a win for religious liberty advocates, including groups such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, who fought the mandate in court.
Speaker Paul Ryan praised the move. “This is a landmark day for religious liberty,” he said in a press release. “I applaud the Trump administration for standing up for religious liberty. We will work to continue to strengthen this right so integral to our civil society.”
Other evangelical leaders also voiced their approval.
Russell Moore, who serves as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, called the exemption “a crucial achievement in the preservation of religious liberty.”
“The government has no business whatsoever forcing citizens to subsidize the destruction of human life and the exploitation of families and communities,” Moore said in a press release.
However, the new exemptions have received significant opposition. Opponents say that this move will make it impossible for female employees to have access to affordable birth control. After the new guidelines were released, the American Civil Liberties Union immediately filed suit in US District Court to block the move.