Va. attorney general ‘fighting back’ to protect birth control coverage

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring says he is fighting back to protect affordable contraception coverage for women in the Commonwealth.

Across the country, more than 60 million women are able to get birth control with no out-of-pocket costs, according to the National Women’s Law Center. It’s all because of a mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

That includes 1.6 million women in Virginia, who save on average $255 a year.

But now, under President Donald Trump, that coverage is in question.

The Trump administration decided to ease requirements for employers — allowing them to cite religious or moral objection to be exempt from providing contraception coverage.

Currently, few employers are exempt from the mandate, but policy experts say hundreds could get on board due to the new rule.

On Tuesday, Herring announced he filed a court brief aimed at protecting women’s access to contraception coverage.

The Democrat joins 18 other attorneys general in opposing the changes.

The attorneys general argue that the new rule is unconstitutional by allowing the federal government to endorse certain religious beliefs over a woman’s right to make choices about her own health care.

Herring called the rollback “discriminatory, dangerous and illegal.”

“Women should have the freedom to make their own healthcare decisions, especially when it comes to something as personal as reproductive health, and I won’t stop working to protect affordable contraception coverage for women across Virginia and across the country,” he said in a statement.

The amicus brief, which was filed Tuesday with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, supports the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s lawsuit seeking to stop the federal government from enforcing the new rule.

The other attorneys general are from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.

To view the multi-state amicus brief, click HERE.

Herring filed a similar suit earlier this month in the Northern District of California with state attorneys general from California, Delaware, Maryland and New York.

Click HERE to see that document.

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