US Federal Appeals Court Rules For-Profit Must Cover Contraception
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled on Tuesday that Autocam Corporation - a for-profit entity that provides manufacturing services for automotive and medical industries - must comply with the Affordable Care Act's contraception coverage mandate.
Autocam claimed that providing contraception coverage in its health care plans at no extra cost for employees would violate its rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). In a unanimous opinion, the Sixth Circuit rejected Autocam's argument and determined that secular, for-profit corporations are not "persons" protected under the the Act.
Rev. Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, praised the decision. "Religious liberty is for people, not Big Business," Lynn said. "No corporation should ever be able to tell its employees that they can't have access to contraceptive coverage simply because it offends the boss' religious views." Americans United filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .