The Biden administration proposed a new rule expanding the availability of birth control on Monday by removing moral exemptions for providing contraceptive coverage.
The draft rule also creates an “independent pathway” for women to get access to birth control at no cost even if their employer objects to contraception on religious grounds.
“Now more than ever, access to and coverage of birth control is critical as the Biden-Harris Administration works to help ensure women everywhere can get the contraception they need, when they need it, and – thanks to the ACA – with no out-of-pocket cost,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement on Monday.
Under current rules finalized during the Trump administration in 2018, employers can completely remove themselves from contraceptive coverage while still allowing covered women to get access to birth control, but only if they sign the optional accommodation.
The new rules released Monday would create a workaround that allows women to get access to birth control even if their objecting employer doesn’t sign the optional accommodation.
“The proposed rules seek to ensure broader access to contraceptive services by creating an independent pathway for individuals enrolled in plans arranged or offered by objecting entities to make their own choice to access contraceptive services directly through a willing contraceptive provider without any cost,” the Department of Health and Human Services, which unveiled the rule alongside the Treasury and Labor departments, explained on Monday.
Birth control has come under the microscope in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling last June in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and allowed states to regulate abortion.