Washington, DC – Against the backdrop of a global pandemic and nation-wide calls for racial justice, the United States Supreme Court moved to weaken access to contraception in a 7 to 2 ruling in the case Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania. At issue in the case was the Trump administration’s sweeping decision to allow any employer to deny their employees insurance coverage for contraceptives on religious or moral grounds. The National Health Law Program condemns the ruling and sees it as another attempt to weaken health care protections for historically vulnerable communities.
“One of the groundbreaking accomplishments of the Affordable Care Act is the requirement that health plans cover preventive health services for women at no cost. Included among these vital health services are all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling,” said senior attorney Catherine McKee. “These protections have increased women’s access to contraceptive care, improving their overall health and well-being. The Court’s decision undercuts this progress, putting women’s health and reproductive autonomy in serious jeopardy.”
Today’s ruling privileges a narrow set of religious beliefs over the health and lives of actual people. Nothing occurs in a vacuum, and this ruling comes amidst multiple crises that highlight the unequal treatment of Black and Brown communities in the United States
“Today’s ruling allows the administration to privilege a narrow set of religious beliefs over the health and lives of actual people. Nothing occurs in a vacuum, and this ruling comes amidst multiple crises that highlight the unequal treatment of Black and Brown communities in the United States,” said staff attorney Liz McCaman. “Women of color have been systematically denied reproductive freedom throughout our country’s history, and this ruling is another instance of that injustice. Allowing employers to make health care decisions for workers based not on the employee’s medical needs but on the beliefs of their employer is a recipe for abuse and disparate outcomes. We’re at a moment when millions across the country are calling for a more just society, and a reckoning with our past bad actions. This conversation must include reproductive autonomy.”
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