"This was always a big, unnecessary, and divisive culture war fight", he said, noting there are many ways for people to access contraception without forcing Catholic nuns to participate.
This decision arrives on the heels of the GOP's latest failed attempt to scrap the ACA altogether, the Graham-Cassidy bill, which had also promised to make it more hard for women to access birth control. It called on the Obama administration "to uphold the constitutional protections accorded people of faith to provide healthcare for their employees that is consistent with their core religious beliefs".
The new exemption for religious objections takes effect immediately, and it now includes nonprofit organizations as well as for-profit companies, even ones that are publicly traded. The White House's new rules, released Friday, extends that exception to every employer, essentially putting a women's personal health decisions in the hands of her workplace.
"Such an exemption is no innovation, but instead a return to common sense, long-standing federal practice, and peaceful coexistence between church and state", Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, the group's president, said in a joint statement with Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, head of its religious liberty committee.
Gen. Xavier Becerra, who filed the lawsuit seeking to block the change.
"We are preparing to see the government in court", said Brigitte Amiri, a senior attorney for the ACLU.
Legal disputes over the mandate reached the Supreme Court.
The Trump Administration has officially axed the federal mandate requiring employers to offer birth control coverage to employees - using reasoning straight from the Texas conservative playbook. For every public dollar spent on birth control, ACOG notes $7 is saved on other Medicaid costs associated with unintended pregnancies.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said women "deserve the freedom to access contraception at their own discretion - not at the whim of an employer".
Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards tweeted that the rollback of the mandate was a "new low" for the Trump administration.
Camila Zolfaghari, the executive director of the Georgia Life Alliance, said the organization had no position on birth control, per se.
Many on the left are predictably outraged at this rule change, claiming that it amounts to an attack on women's fundamental right to contraception free of personal cost.
"We can not allow President Trump to roll back the progress women have made over the past century". Religiously affiliated nonprofits and closely held companies can receive an accommodation so they don't have to provide coverage.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, a fellow Democrat, also sued Friday, citing similar legal grounds.
"The constitutional protection of religious beliefs and the right to exercise those beliefs have served this country well, have made us one of the most tolerant countries in the world, and have also helped make us the freeist and most generous", Sessions said in a statement.
The Obama administration argued that the cost-free provision of the coverage was in the government's "compelling interest" in the name of national health; the plaintiffs, on the other hand, pointed out that many health plans were already exempt from the mandate because they were grandfathered by the ACA.
In another decision popular with Trump's evangelical supporters, the Justice Department on Wednesday reversed federal policy and declared that federal law banning sex discrimination in the workplace does not protect transgender employees.
When asked what was different between Thursday and today, the official said, "nothing, as a matter of law".