It was illegal before this week for an employer to offer health insurance to staff that didn't cover the entire cost of all federally-approved birth control or sterilization techniques.
Employers with religious objections to buying such pharmaceuticals — perhaps those who follow Catholic teaching on birth control or object only to those that function as abortifacients — were forced to choose between violating their consciences, abandoning health insurance, or going out of business.
The Trump administration has tweaked the rule so employers who object on moral or religious grounds to providing birth control can get an exemption. Workers who want birth control will have to find it elsewhere.
This is a non-factor for most big businesses, because they are happy to cover contraception, which amongst other things keeps their female employees from needing to be absent from work for pregnancy, birth, and maternity leave. The tweak, therefore, also makes no difference to most workers. For any others, it is a small inconvenience.
But for some employers, the relief is huge. It is the difference between being allowed to conduct their own affairs freely according to their consciences, leaving others to live their lives. The rule change is an expression of belief in and hope for tolerance — live and let live.
This, of course, means it does not jibe with the intolerance of the Democratic Left, with its mania about contraception, religious conservatives, and the ersatz "war on women." In the culture war Democrats are prosecuting today, if a religious conservative is left free to live her life as a religious conservative, this is somehow theocracy.
Birth control advocates took to Twitter with the hashtag rallying cry "#HandsOffMyBC," as though Obama's interference in people's healthcare decisions was somehow a hands-off approach. All Trump did, as he should have done and as any decent federal government would, was give employers the choice to remove themselves from their employees' birth control.
It wasn't merely angry and illogical Twitterers who erupted on Friday, when Trump's exemption was announced. Democratic politicians, all of them indebted to Planned Parenthood, the industrial-scale abortionist, as a major source of campaign contributions, also tried to paint the rule change as oppression of women.
"No woman should be subject to the whim of her employer to access the contraception that is her right," wrote House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The clear implication here is that employers control whether or not their female employees can get birth control.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman performed this spectacular feat of verbal gymnastics: "On the eve of the Trump admin, I introduced a bill to protect cost-free contraception in NY." He called the exemption "an attack on the liberty of all women."
"Liberty" is now defined on the Left as the act of forcing someone to buy something for someone else against their conscience.
Liberal blogger Nicholas Bagley suggested Trump's exemption was an instance of "curtailing reproductive rights."
But a businessman who doesn't violate his own conscience is not imposing his morality on others. Expanding the religious exemption through the interim final rule issued Friday is a great first step. The next should be a permanent final rule setting the exemption in stone. The third which will take more time and more lawyerly i-dotting and t-crossing. It is the total abolition of the birth control mandate. The notion that buying birth control should be a normal, let alone compulsory, way of compensating an employee is nowhere in Obamacare, and nowhere in within the ambit of reasonable policymaking.
Freeing people to live their lives according to their beliefs, without harming others, is an absolute good. To the Left and its party in Congress, it is an absolute outrage.