Statement on Court Action Regarding Contraceptive Coverage

Posted on July 27, 2012

NARAL Pro-Choice, July 27, 212

Washington, D.C.—Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, expressed grave disappointment with a judge’s decision to allow a challenge against the Obama administration’s contraceptive-coverage policy to move forward.

A heating and air-conditioning business owner brought the challenge.  The plaintiffs, who personally oppose contraception, asked the court for permission to discriminate against their employees by denying them insurance coverage of birth control. The judge granted the business the temporary right to refuse to comply with the policy while the court prepares to hear the case. The policy stands for all other employers.

The legal action comes after the Supreme Court upheld the health-reform law last month that made such advancement for women’s health possible.

“Just like the anti-choice politicians who are using the legislative process to attack birth control, these groups are turning to the courts in an attempt to undermine the greatest advancement for women’s health in a generation,” Keenan said. “Contraception is basic health care for women, and we are disappointed that the judge didn’t see it that way. Let’s keep in mind, churches, and other places of worship are exempt from this policy already. Unfortunately, the people behind these challenges want to give every boss the right to deny his employees contraceptive coverage. If they get their way, owners of fast-food restaurants or heating- and cooling- companies who oppose contraception could refuse plans with contraceptive coverage. Fast-food restaurants and air-conditioning repair shops are not places of worship.”

In March, the U.S. Senate rejected a far-reaching attack on the contraceptive-coverage policy. As a result of that vote and the subsequent public backlash, many observers predicted that anti-choice members of Congress would refrain from attacking birth control.

To the contrary, these politicians and their allies have continued to target contraception, including holding the 33rd vote in the House attempting to repeal the health-reform law that makes contraceptive coverage possible.

Anti-choice lawmakers also have recently introduced seven bills to cancel the benefit. For instance, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) introduced the Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act of 2012 (H.R.6097).  Rep. Sensenbrenner’s bill would allow any employer – even one in the private sector who owns a fast-food restaurant or a sporting-goods store – to refuse to provide this coverage based on his personal beliefs. The effect could place millions of Americans’ contraceptive coverage in jeopardy.

In addition to the attacks in Congress, 24 lawsuits have been filed by various anti-contraception organizations. Now that the law has been upheld, these challenges are beginning to move through the courts.

Ted Miller, 202.973.3032

Posted in: United States