House and Senate Democrats File Amicus Briefs in Support of Affordable Care Act Contraception Benefit
91 House Democrats, 19 Senate Democrats, and the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) filed separate amicus briefs Tuesday in support of the contraceptive coverage benefit in the Affordable Care Act. NWLC's brief was joined by 68 other organizations, including the Feminist Majority Foundation.
The briefs are for the Supreme Court case Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, and the House's brief includes Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v Sebelius. Craft store Hobby Lobby filed a federal lawsuit in November 2012 against the Obama Administration over the mandate requiring employers to provide coverage for FDA-approved contraceptives, including the pill and IUDs, without co-pays or deductibles. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, a wood cabinet manufacturer, are arguing that this benefit violates the religious beliefs of these corporations and that they should not be required to provide health insurance plans that cover certain types of birth control.The Supreme Court agreed to hear the challenge to the ACA last November, and it is currently pending.
The briefs emphasize the mandate's benefits to millions of Americans who will now be able to access crucial preventive health care, and they attempt to demonstrate that the requirement does not violate the free exercise of religion. "To them, it's a debate about 'freedom,' except of course the freedom for women to access care," said Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).
TAKE ACTION: Send a clear message to the Supreme Court that companies should not be able to use religion as cover to discriminate against women. Leave stories and tell the Court why BC coverage matters to you! Share the petition online using the tag #MyBodyMyBC!
Media Resources: National Women's Law Center 1/28/14; Senator Murray; Feminist Newswire 9/13/12, 11/26/13; Feminist Majority Foundation
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. . . .