Two Democratic state attorneys general, along with the ACLU, responded to the Trump administration's intention to roll back contraception coverage with immediate announcements of lawsuits on behalf of millions of people.
Donald Trump's announcement that his administration would roll back the Obama-era policy mandating that employer-provided health insurance plans cover contraception at no out-of-pocket cost to employees was met with immediate pushback and criticism.
And two Democratic state attorneys general have added lawsuits to that opposition.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who between them represent over 46 million Americans, have both filed lawsuits against the Trump administration to stop his unconstitutional overreach.
In his statement, Becerra noted that the administration "wants businesses and corporations to control family planning decisions" rather than patients and doctors.
"These anti-women's health regulations prove once again that the Trump Administration is willing to trample on people’s rights," Becerra said. "The California Department of Justice will fight to protect every woman’s right to healthcare, including reproductive healthcare. We'll see the Trump Administration in court."
In her announcement, Healey was forthright in her assessment of Trump's move, declaring that it "represents, simply put, an all out attack on women in this country."
She pointed out that allowing an employer to essentially impose its religious beliefs on its employees — which is what this new rule would do, as well as give space for the more amorphous "moral objection" from an employer — is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. She added that the rule would further violate the principle of equal protection under the law, as well as the norms set out by the Administrative Procedure Act.
Speaking to MSNBC's Ari Melber Friday evening, Healey expanded on these points, noting that "there are already religions protections" under the law, following the Supreme Court's ruling in Sebelius vs Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc in 2014.
But Trump's move has nothing to do with religious beliefs, Healey noted.
"This is about a systematic effort to eviscerate and undermine completely women's access to health care," she warned.
Here's why we're going to win. You can't do that — the basic principles say that we get to exercise religious freedom, of course. And the law — and the Supreme Court recently set this clear in Hobby Lobby — there are already existing protections for religious freedom under the law that protect religious institutions and the like.
But that's not what this is about. This is about a systematic effort to eviscerate and undermine completely women's access to health care. And I'll tell you why: Not only are they offering religious objection, Ari, as a reason — they offered a separate rule today that said the boss gets to basically lob a 'moral' objection that would allow the boss to deny care to women or to other employees. That's just wrong. And that's what's really scary — the idea that somebody, an employer, could make a moral objection that would deny women access to needed health care really opens up, to a scary degree, any number of options.
And again, it's why I sought to file directly in court this afternoon, and to seek an immediate order to stop this rule from going forward. As I say, President Trump is once again showing to be at war with women in this country. He needs to be stopped, and we're going to look to do it through the courts here through this action.
Trump's White House has already telegraphed their disdain for the very real concerns raised by people like Becerra, Healey, and many others. When asked during a briefing what she would say to the millions who would be negatively impacted by this rule, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders actually laughed during her answer, as she brushed off the issue, while also lying about it for good measure.
The ACLU has also filed a lawsuit against the administration to block the new rule, on behalf of their own members as well as those of the Service Employee International Union-United Health Care Workers West (SEIU-UHW).
Dave Regan, president of SEIU-UHW, was unsparing in his condemnation of Trump's decision. "With the stroke of a pen, the Trump administration has shamelessly attempted to rip away the rights of untold numbers of women to receive essential health care, under the warped façade of 'religious freedom,'" he stated.
"Apparently," he continued, "'religious freedom' to this administration is the freedom to allow bosses to make medical decisions for and discriminate against female employees."
Women and others who need reproductive health care will pay the price — figuratively and literally — for Trump's blatant pander to the religious right. And with this announcement coming on the heels of the House GOP passing a 20-week abortion ban, it is abundantly clear that the conservative war on women is still alive and well.
But so is the fight to stop it.