The Trump administration cannot enforce new rules that could significantly limit women's access to free birth control, a federal judge in Philadelphia has ruled.
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The injunction issued Friday by Judge Wendy Beetlestone temporarily blocks the federal government from enforcing a policy change to an Affordable Care Act law that requires most companies to cover birth control at no additional cost, the Associated Press reported.
The current law does include exemptions for religious organizations, but the new rules would permit more businesses, including publicly traded companies, to opt out by claiming moral or religious objections.
The Trump administration's new exemptions are "sweeping" and are the "proverbial exception that swallows the rule," Beetlestone said in her ruling, the AP reported.
She said giving the power to object on moral grounds "conjured up a world where a government entity is empowered to impose its own version of morality on each one of us. That cannot be right."
The new rules, issued in October, are about "protecting a narrow class of sincere religious and moral objectors from being forced to facilitate practices that conflict with their beliefs," Trump administration lawyers said in court documents, the AP reported.
Trump broke the law to undermine women's health, but this ruling will protect women, according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat.
"This is just the first step, but today is a critical victory for millions of women and families and for the rule of law," Shapiro said, the AP reported.
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