We have filed briefs opposing over a dozen challenges to the coverage requirement brought by religious non-profit organizations.
Non-profit organizations challenged the religious accommodation that allows religious entities to refuse to provide their students and employees with insurance coverage for contraception. Under the accommodation, an entity need only state its objection in writing, and the government will arrange for a third-party to pay for and provide the coverage instead. Remarkably, many entities have challenged this accommodation in court—insisting that the mere act of requesting it violates their religious freedom.
Leading up to Zubik v. Price, nearly every Court of Appeals to consider the question rejected the non-profit organizations’ argument and upheld the accommodation. In Zubik, however, the Supreme Court sent these cases back to the Courts of Appeals to consider additional accommodations. In January 2017, after requesting information from the public, the Obama administration concluded that there was no feasible alternative. Unfortunately, no resolution has been reached and these women’s access to contraception remains in limbo.
In May 2017, President Trump signed a "religious freedom" executive order aimed in part at attacking women’s access to birth control. The executive order started the process to roll back the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage rule. In October 2017, the Trump administration issued regulations that created a sweeping religious exemption—any corporation or university can use religion to deny their employees and students coverage for birth control.
On October 31, 2017, Americans United and National Women's Law Center filed Shiraef v. Hargan, a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s contraception coverage rules. In it, we fought on behalf of women who were at risk of being denied birth control coverage, including three students from the University of Notre Dame and Alicia Baker, an employee at an Indiana church whose insurance provider objected to some forms of birth control. Barely a week after we filed the case, Notre Dame reversed course on its plan to take advantage of the Trump administration rules, announcing instead that employees and students will continue to have contraceptive coverage. Alicia Baker accepted a new job and no longer has to worry about her previous insurance provider’s religious objections. These women have access to birth control and thus, they don’t need to continue their lawsuit for now. The fight is not over, however. In February 2018, Notre Dame announced that it would terminate insurance coverage of certain forms of contraception, following an undisclosed settlement it claims to have reached with the government. AU and NWLC sent a demand letter to the university and filed a Freedom of Information Act seeking information about the settlement and the school’s contraceptive coverage for its employees and students.
Countless other women will also be harmed by the new rules. That’s why eight states and our allies including the ACLU are also in court challenging the rule. Federal judges in Pennsylvania and California have blocked the birth control rules.
AU continues to fight the regulations outside of court. In December 2017, we filed public comments to tell the Trump Administration that these new rules were unfair, unconstitutional, and harmful. And we joined our allies to deliver over 500,000 comments from people across the country—including Americans United supporters—who also think that attacking women’s access to healthcare is wrong.
We will continue to fight to make sure all women have affordable, seamless access to contraception. Women’s health and equality and religious freedom are at stake.
Zubik v. Price et al (United States Supreme Court)
Our brief to the United States Supreme Court (February 17, 2016)
University of Notre Dame v. Price (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit)
Our second status report to the Court of Appeals (July 3, 2017)
Our first status report to the Court of Appeals (June 1, 2017)
Our motion to add Ann Doe as another student-intervenor (July 8, 2016)
Our second brief to the Court of Appeals (April 7, 2015)
The first decision from the Court of Appeals rejecting Notre Dame’s claims (February 21, 2014)
Our first brief to the Court of Appeals (January 27, 2014)
Our motion to participate in the case on behalf of Notre Dame students (January 8, 2014)
Catholic Health Care System v. Price (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit)
Our brief to the Court of Appeals (June 3, 2014)
East Baptist Texas University v. Price (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit)
Our brief to the Court of Appeals (September 23, 2014)
Geneva College v. Price (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit)
The interim order from the U.S. Supreme Court (June 29, 2015)
Our brief to the Court of Appeals (June 17, 2014)
Little Sisters of the Poor v. Price (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit)
Our brief to the Court of Appeals (April 3, 2014)
The interim order from the U.S. Supreme Court (January 24, 2014)
Michigan Catholic Conference v. Price (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit)
Our brief to the Court of Appeals (February 27, 2014)
Priests for Life v. Price (U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit)
The decision from the Court of Appeals rejecting Priests for Life’s claims (November 14, 2014)
Our brief to the Court of Appeals (April 2, 2014)
Wheaton College v. Price (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit)
The interim order from U.S. Supreme Court (July 3, 2014)