By Emily Drooby
Another federal judge has expanded a ruling that blocks the Trump administration’s mandate protecting employers from being required to provide free contraceptive coverage. The decision now applies to every state. The change would have allowed more employers to opt-out of providing contraceptives if they objected for religious or moral reasons. It was supposed to take effect on Monday.
U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Pennsylvania issued a nation-wide injunction, which stopped the Trump administration from implementing changes. In a 65-page decision, Beetlestone, referred to an estimate that more than 70,000 women would lose coverage under the Trump change writing, “The States’ harm is not merely speculative; it is actual and imminent.” Beetlestone added the loss of coverage could lead to women seeking state-funded services.
The Judge’s decision coming less than 24 hours after a similar decision by a California judge that included 13 states and the District of Columbia.
Catholic voices across the country responded to the injunction.
The United States Conference of Bishops released a statement reading in part, “In a free country, no one should be forced to facilitate or fund things like contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs and devices, which go against their core beliefs. We pray that this decision will be appealed and that future courts will respect the free exercise arguments of the Little Sisters of the Poor and so many others who simply seek the freedom to serve their neighbors without the threat of massive government fines hanging over their heads.”
Christian Rada, Director of Respect Life Education in the Diocese of Brooklyn, said: “Conscious has been defined as God’s innermost sanctuary, where God and the person meet in that innermost sanctuary. So, by the federal government violating that sanctuary, it’s a travesty.”
Alice Lemos from The Bridge to Life, a charity that helps women in crisis pregnancies, had a similar reaction. She said, “Trying to roll back some teeny-tiny protections for people who are either devout Christians, devout Jews, or devout Muslims, so that they’re not forced to pay for something they do not believe in.”
The order of the Little Sisters of the Poor have been battling the mandate for five years, with the help of religious liberty law firm Becket. In a statement, Mother Loraine Marie Maguire of the Little Sisters of the Poor, said, “We never wanted this fight, and we regret that after a long legal battle it is still not over.”
It’s not yet immediately clear if the Trump administration plans on appealing. Becket says they will be.