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Under Trump’s Rule, Women Will Lose Birth Control Coverage: Judge

The states argue that millions of women could lose free birth control services under the new rules.

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birth control, contraceptive, women
A one-month dosage of hormonal birth control pills is displayed in Sacramento, Calif. VOA

A “substantial number” of women would lose free birth control coverage under new rules by the Trump administration that allow more employers to opt out of providing the benefit, a U.S. judge said at a hearing Friday.

Judge Haywood Gilliam appeared inclined to grant a request by California and other states that he block the rules while the states’ lawsuit moves forward. He said he would rule before Monday, when the rules are set to take effect.

The changes would allow more employers, including publicly traded companies, to opt out of providing no-cost contraceptive coverage to women by claiming religious objections. Some private employers could also object on moral grounds.

Gilliam said the new rules would be a “massive policy shift” to women who lose coverage.

Women, Birth Control
Margot Riphagen of New Orleans, La., wears a birth control pills costume during a protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, March 25, 2015. VOA

The judge previously blocked an interim version of those rules — a decision that was upheld in December by an appeals court.

The case is before him again after the administration finalized the measures in November, prompting a renewed legal challenge by California and other states.

At issue is a requirement under President Barack Obama’s health care law that birth control services be covered at no additional cost. Obama officials included exemptions for religious organizations. The Trump administration expanded those exemptions and added “moral convictions” as a basis to opt out of providing birth control services.

Karli Eisenberg, an attorney for California, told Gilliam on Friday the loss of free contraceptive coverage from employers would force women to turn to government programs that provide birth control, and if they are ineligible for those, increase the risk of unintended pregnancies.

“It’s undisputed that these rules will create barriers,” she said.

Reproductive Rights, abortion, women, birth control
A community health worker holds up contraceptives during a lecture on family planning at a reproductive health clinic run by an NGO in Tondo city, metro Manila. VOA

The rules violate the Affordable Care Act, including a provision that forbids discrimination, she said.

Justin Sandberg, an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, said the health care law already had exemptions for contraceptive coverage that left millions of women without the benefit. He said the birth control requirement was a “substantial burden” on employers with religious objections.

The rules “protect a narrow class of sincere religious and moral objectors from being forced to facilitate practices that conflict with their beliefs,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in court documents.

Also Read: Trump Can’t Deny Birth Control Coverage: U.S. Court

The states argue that millions of women could lose free birth control services under the new rules. They want Gilliam to issue a preliminary injunction blocking the rules for the entire nation.

Gilliam questioned whether a nationwide injunction was appropriate. He noted that a federal judge in Massachusetts had ruled against a similar challenge to the birth control rules, but a nationwide injunction would nonetheless block them in that state. (VOA)

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Sweetened Beverages May Increase Risk of Early Death: Study

Sugar-sweetened beverages intake is also on the rise in developing countries, spurred by urbanisation and beverage marketing

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soda
The "soft drinks" were defined as caffeinated colas, caffeine-free colas and other carbonated beverages (such as diet ginger ale). Pixabay

Women who drink sugar sweetened beverages are at an increased risk of death from cardiovascular diseases, researchers have warned.

The study, led by Harvard University researchers, found that drinking 1-4 sugary drinks per month was linked with a one per cent increased risk of death and 2-6 drinks per week with a six per cent increase.

The increased early death risk linked with sugar-sweetened beverages consumption was more pronounced among women than among men, the findings, published in the journal Circulation, showed.

“Our results provide further support to limit intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and to replace them with other beverages, preferably water, to improve overall health and longevity,” said lead author Vasanti Malik.

However, drinking one artificially-sweetened beverage per day instead of carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks lowered the risk of premature death.

One should go for healthier alternatives of cold drinks. Wikimedia Commons
One should go for healthier alternatives of cold drinks. Wikimedia Commons

For the study, the team analysed data from 80,647 women and 37,716 men.

The study supports policies to limit marketing of sugary beverages to children and adolescents and for implementing soda taxes.

Also Read- Strength Training Can Help in Reducing Fatty Liver Disease, Says Study

Sugar-sweetened beverages should be no more than 10 per cent of daily calories from added sugars.

Sugar-sweetened beverages intake is also on the rise in developing countries, spurred by urbanisation and beverage marketing, said the team. (IANS)