In what USCCB President Cardinal Daniel DiNardo is hailing as a “return to common sense, longstanding federal practice,” the Trump administration announced late last week that it is expanding the religious exemption to the contraceptive mandate issued during the Obama administration.
The new regulations, which go into effect immediately, will permit both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage in their health plans if they object on religious or moral grounds. This means that groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor will no longer be forced to provide contraceptives, permitting them to return to their previous practice of offering an employee health plan without it.
Groups supporting the mandate have already sued to block implementation of the new regulations. For his part, St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson, who had sued the Obama administration on behalf of the Archdiocese and Catholic Charities after the contraceptive mandate was first imposed, expressed that “[t]hese new policies are a welcome relief after years of uncertainty.”
Pray that the courts will see fit to uphold these new regulations in the face of legal challenges.