The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued two final rules Nov. 7 thatexempt certain entities from the Affordable Care Act's (ACA's) contraceptivemandate if theiropposition is based on religious or moral grounds. The rules are likely to be challenged incourt,as have been previous HHS rules on this topic.The ACA requires that group health insurance cover contraceptives. The rules will extendtheexemption now available to places of worship to faith-based nonprofits, religious schoolsandprivate businesses.

The final rules closely resemble interim proposals that were released inOctober 2017.In other words, we already knew what we wanted, but we couldn’t make it official until we’dgone over the whole thing with the lawyers.Of course, while religious freedom and pro-life advocates welcomed the final rules, saying"Pro-life organizations should not be forced into betraying the very values they were establishedtoadvance" and the religious exemption rule "will allow such freedom," saidMarch for LifePresident Jeanne Mancini. A spokesperson for California Attorney General Xavier Becerrasaid,"We're prepared to use all legal tools to challenge this rule that risks awoman's access to birthcontrol." Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro promised, "I will keepfighting every dayto protect women's rights." And Michelle Banker, a lawyer with the NationalWomen's Law

Center, said the final rules are, "just as problematic as the interim final rules. And wewillabsolutely continue to challenge them in court."In other words, people who have sworn to break your independence will continue to do so.For now, it’s being held up in court.

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