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July 8, 2020 – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Trump-Pence rules allowing nearly any employer and university to deny birth control coverage to their employees and students. The Court held that the Trump-Pence administration had the authority to issue these harmful contraceptive coverage rules under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This decision leaves the rules in place, putting contraceptive coverage at risk for hundreds of thousands of people, especially low-income workers and students, people of color and LGBTQ people.
Said Lourdes Rivera, Senior Vice President of U.S. Programs at the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Contraception should not be singled out from the rest of health insurance coverage. Today’s ruling has given bosses the power to dictate how their employees can and cannot use their health insurance—allowing them to intrude into their employees’ private decisions based on whatever personal beliefs their employers happen to hold.
“Refusing women the health care they are guaranteed by law is an act of discrimination. This fundamentally wrong-headed ruling is a critical misinterpretation of the Affordable Care Act and what Congress intended. We now look to Congress to act swiftly to ensure that only workers and students, not their bosses or universities, have the authority to decide what health care choices are appropriate for them and their families. Congress should take action to ensure the Administration is prevented from enforcing these discriminatory rules.”
This is the third time the high court has addressed the issue of the ACA’s contraceptive coverage benefit. The no-cost birth control guarantee remained intact for most people in the U.S. until 2017, when the Trump Administration introduced new rules that would expand the exemption so broadly that it could render the birth control guarantee meaningless for hundreds of thousands of people. Under the rules, any entity of any size, whether non-profit or for-profit, could deny birth control coverage for its workers or students as long as it claimed to have religious or in many cases even moral objections.
Earlier this year, the Center for Reproductive Rights joined 20 other organizations, led by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, in filing a “friend of the court” brief in the case, telling the Supreme Court, “Through the rulemaking challenged here, the government has sought to…[establish] religious and moral exemptions that effectively nullify the contraceptive-coverage requirement’s protections for hundreds of thousands of women…”. The amicus brief filed by religious and civil-rights organizations, including the Center, notes, “The rights to believe and practice one’s faith, or not, are sacrosanct. But they do not extend to imposing on others by operation of law the costs and burdens of one’s beliefs. Government should not, and under the Establishment Clause cannot, favor the religious beliefs of some at the expense of the rights, beliefs, and health of others.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights uses the power of law to advance reproductive rights as fundamental human rights around the world. www.reproductiverights.org