Tuesday, November 25, 2014

US Man Denied British Visa Because of his Sexism

NYT, After Outcry, Britain Bars "Pick up Artist" from Entering

This week, Julien Blanc became possibly the first man ever denied a visa on grounds of sexism.

 

Mr. Blanc, a 25-year-old Californian, calls himself a “pickup artist.” His website promises men that he will “make girls beg to sleep with you,” and in expensive dating boot camps held around the world he shares tips about “gaming” and grabbing women, including casually pulling their heads toward the crotch.

 

The latter technique works particularly well in Japan, Mr. Blanc recently told an audience of men in Tokyo: “If you’re a white male, you can do what you want.”

 

Amid a public outcry over his abusive techniques, which some say verge on rape promotion, and an online petition with over 150,000 signatures, the British government on Wednesday barred Mr. Blanc from entering the country for a series of events scheduled here. Officials said people could be denied entry on the grounds that their presence was “not conducive to the public good,” a rare power usually reserved for far-right activists and terrorism suspects.***

 
The decision by the British Home Office came after the Australian government hastily withdrew Mr. Blanc’s visa last week and forced him to leave the country. Photos he had shared on social media showing him pretending to choke a series of women went viral on Twitter under the hashtag #ChokingGirlsAroundTheWorld. Since then, women and men in several countries where he had scheduled events in the coming months, including Canada, have started campaigns to deny him entry.

November 25, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Constitutional Right (Not) to Procreate

Mary Ziegler, (Florida State), Abortion and the Constitutional Right (Not) to Procreate, 8 U. Richmond L. Rev. 1263 (2014). From the abstract:

With the growing use of assisted reproductive technology (“ART”), courts have to reconcile competing rights to seek and avoid procreation. Often, in imagining the boundaries of these rights, judges turn to abortion jurisprudence for guidance.
 
This move sparks controversy. On the one hand, abortion case law may provide the strongest constitutional foundation for scholars and advocates seeking rights to access ART or avoid unwanted parenthood. On the other hand, abortion jurisprudence carries normative and political baggage: a privacy framework that disadvantages poor women and a history of intense polarization.
 
This article uses the legal history of struggle over spousal consent abortion restrictions as a new way into the debate about the relationship between ART and existing reproductive rights. Such laws would require women to notify or obtain consent from their husbands before a doctor can perform an abortion. Scholars use spousal-consultation laws to illustrate the sex stereotypes supposedly underlying all abortion restrictions. This article tells a far more complex story. When feminists and pro-lifers battled about spousal consent in the 1970s, they wrestled with many of the questions motivating current battles about ART: Do women enjoy a unique role in child-rearing and childbearing? Does gestation, caretaking, or a genetic connection explain the decision-making power conferred on women in the context of reproduction? How could feminists reconcile demands that men perform a greater share of child-rearing with arguments that women should have the final decision on reproductive matters? By reexamining the history of the consent wars, we can gain valuable perspective on what can go right -- and wrong -- when we forge a jurisprudence based on the relationship between genetic, gestational, and functional parenthood.
 
 

November 25, 2014 in Abortion, Legal History, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Study Shows Persistent Discrimination for Women Law Faculty of Color

Meera Deo (Thomas Jefferson), The Ugly Truth About Legal Academia, 80 Brooklyn L. Rev. (2015).

The Diversity in Legal Academia (DLA) project is the first formal, comprehensive, mixed-method empirical examination of the law faculty experience, utilizing an intersectional lens to investigate the personal and professional lives of legal academics. This Article reports on the first set of findings from that study, which I personally designed and implemented. DLA data reveal that ongoing privilege and institutional discrimination based on racism and sexism create distinct challenges for particular law faculty. Interactions between women of color law faculty and both their faculty colleagues and their students indicate persisting racial and gender privilege, resulting in ongoing bias. These findings cry out for law schools to intensify efforts at strengthening rather than de-emphasizing diversity, as many may be tempted to do during this period of great turmoil in legal education. In fact, law schools should provide greater institutional support to faculty, which will help not only those who are underrepresented, marginalized, and vulnerable, but all law faculty, law students, and the legal profession overall. This Article draws from both quantitative and qualitative data gathered from this national sample of law faculty to focus on the ways in which race, gender, and the combination of the two affect law faculty interactions with colleagues and students. It also proposes individual strategies and structural solutions that can be utilized in order for legal academia to live up to its full potential.

November 25, 2014 in Education, Gender, Law schools | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gender and Silicon Valley

From the New Yorker:

This summer, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and other Silicon Valley superpowers released demographic reports on their workforces. The reports confirmed what everyone already knew: tech is a man’s world. Men make up sixty to seventy per cent of employees at these companies, and, notwithstanding rock stars like Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, senior leadership is even more overwhelmingly male. A recent study by the law firm Fenwick & West found that forty-five per cent of tech companies there didn’t have a single female executive. (The picture is also bleak when it comes to ethnic diversity.) The Valley seems to take the problem seriously—Apple’s Tim Cook recently stated his commitment to “advancing diversity”—but there’s a long way to go.

A familiar explanation for tech’s gender disparity is the so-called pipeline problem: the percentage of female computer-science graduates has almost halved since the nineteen-eighties. But this doesn’t fully explain why there are so few women in senior management or on company boards (where skills other than programming matter). Nor can it explain the high rate of attrition among women in tech. A 2008 study found that more than half of women working in the industry ended up leaving the field. The pipeline isn’t just narrow; it’s tapering.

 

November 24, 2014 in Technology, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Women Who Lean In Are More Depressed Than Those Who Don't"

From the New Republic:

Conventional wisdom suggests that people with greater authority at work should be mentally and physically healthier than those without it. They can afford to take care of themselves and aren’t tied to the daily (unhealthy) grind. But a new study, to be published in the December issue of Journal of Health and Social Behavior, suggests that men and women react differently to the pressures of a high-powered career.

The study examined 1,300 middle-aged men and 1,500 middle-aged women from Wisconsin over a period of several decades, looking at responses to a survey gathered when the respondents were 54 and 65 years old. Women with higher levels of job authority (defined as control over one’s work, the ability to hire and fire others, and control their pay) showed more depressive symptoms than women without job authority. With men, the opposite was true: Lower levels of authority correlated with higher levels of depressive symptoms. 

 

 

November 24, 2014 in Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Sex Exception for Vicarious Liability in Torts

John Goldberg (Harvard), Jotwell, When is Sexual Abuse Within the Scope of Employment?, reviewing Martha Chamallas (Ohio State), Vicarious Liability in Torts: The Sex Exception, 48 Val. U. L. Rev. 133 (2013), available at SSRN.

Martha Chamallas’s Monsanto Lecture, Vicarious Liability in Torts: The Sex Exception, is timely and important, inviting renewed scholarly attention to the oft-neglected topic of vicarious liability.

 

Since the 1990s, courts have faced a steady stream of suits brought against schools, hospitals, religious institutions, and other entities for sexual abuse committed by employees. In addressing these suits, Chamallas argues, courts have adopted an unjustifiably narrow approach to vicarious liability.

 

Modern doctrine maintains that an employee’s on-the-job wrong will be imputed to her employer when the wrong is foreseeable, or involves the realization of risks characteristic of the employer’s enterprise. Under these tests, vicarious liability has at times extended to employees’ intentional acts of physical violence, as well as to negligence perpetrated by drunken, off-duty employees.

 

It is thus surprising, Chamallas argues, to find prominent cases in which courts decline to impose vicarious liability for sexual abuse. For example, the California Supreme Court refused to hold a hospital liable for its medical technician’s molestation of a young woman during the performance of an ultrasound, and also declined to hold a school district liable for a teacher’s abuse of a student during a school-sanctioned extra-curricular activity. According to Chamallas, modern legal tests for “scope of employment” are capacious enough to permit liability in cases such as these. Moreover, standard instrumental rationales for respondeat superior (“let the master answer”)—that it incentivizes appropriate precaution-taking by employers, better ensures compensation of victims, and fairly comports with the risks characteristic of the employer’s enterprise—arguably also favor liability. So why would courts decline to hold employers liable under the circumstances?

November 22, 2014 in Business, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Heartbeat Abortion Bill Again in Ohio

Ohio Lawmakers Advance "Heartbeat" Abortion Ban

An Ohio House committee on Thursday voted 11-6 along party lines to advance a bill (HB 248) that would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which can be as early as six weeks of pregnancy, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

 

The measure would not apply when a woman's life is in danger, but it would not allow exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest (Siegel/Candisky, Columbus Dispatch, 11/21). Under the bill, performing an abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detectable would be a fifth-degree felony (Bassett, Huffington Post, 11/20).

November 22, 2014 in Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 21, 2014

"How much does sexual assault cost college students every year?"

Alexandra Brodsky, a Yale Law student, wrote an editorial in WaPo:

In 2008, Wagatwe Wanjuki reported to her school, Tufts, that her boyfriend had repeatedly assaulted her. But the college refused to investigate the claim. The stress of the abuse and institutional betrayal took a toll on her grades, but without the school’s support she could not afford the tutoring she needed. Tufts then expelled Wanjuki for her substandard academic performance in 2009. (Tufts declined to comment on Wanjuki’s experience, citing confidentiality laws.) No longer enrolled as a student, Wanjuki’s student debt continued to accrue. Years later, she transferred to Rutgers University. Now a prominent anti-violence activist (and friend of mine), she graduated in August with a degree in sociology. But she also has more than $100,000 in debt from two schools.

And: 

Under Title IX, schools must ensure that all students have equal access to educational opportunities regardless of gender. According to courts and the Department of Education, this requirement includes an affirmative duty for colleges and universities to help survivors of gender-based violence continue their educations. That means schools must provide services such as tutors, dorm changes that allow victims to avoid their abusers, and mental health support to survivors who report harassment or abuse – even if they do not pursue disciplinary charges against the offender.

Yet stories from students across the country show that colleges and universities often shirk their responsibilities to support survivors. Students are then left to fend for themselves (with the help of their families, if they are lucky) as they try to stay in school. Thousands of dollars can disappear into rent for a new apartment off campus, away from an abusive ex, or into bills for hours of much-needed counseling. When a school denies survivors the services and support they need to recover, students may be forced to take out additional loans — or even to leave school, a semester’s tuition down the drain.

 

 

November 21, 2014 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gay Couples Banned from Homeless Shelter

From the Washington Times

Leaders of a nonprofit homeless shelter in Kansas City, Missouri, have decided not to allow legally married gay couples to stay overnight as they say it violates the group’s Christian principles.

City Union Mission debated the decision for several years but ultimately decided it must adhere to the Bible, Executive Director Dan Doty told The Kansas City Star.

“We are a Christian, faith-based organization that really does adhere to biblical standards. Our view is that it (same-sex marriage) is inappropriate,” he said.



November 21, 2014 in LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

From Working Class to Academia

From one our past guest bloggers, Susan Apel, Professor of Law, Vermont Law School, a personal memoir about moving from the working class to academia.

November 20, 2014 in Law schools, Poverty, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

After Veterans' Day More on Women in the Military

In the aftermath of Veterans' Day, some thinking about women in the military.

November 20, 2014 in Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gender Discrimination in Product Pricing

WaPao, France Investigates a Secret "Tax" that Targets Women

From disposable razors to chocolate, French women are being charged more than men for near-identical products, according to the French rights group Georgette Sand. The group has taken photographs at a variety of stores that appear to show different prices for similar types of products depending on the gender they are being marketed to.

 

The group calls it a secret "tax" on women. For example, according to photos posted by the group, women pay more for disposable razors sold in separately branded packaging.***

 

In response to the public outcry, some French media outlets are pointing at the United States as a role model. In 1995, California signed a bill that banned gender discrimination in pricing, and many states have since followed suit. According to a report by the Los Angeles Times from back then, analysts were optimistically expecting to save women $1,350 a year per person but warned that the law could theoretically also force some merchants to raise prices to ensure equality. However, a 2010 study conducted by Consumer Reports magazine showed that gendered pricing persisted in many other parts of the United States.

 

November 20, 2014 in Gender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Comet Scientist...and His T-Shirt

Dr Matt Taylor

From the Guardian UK:

Well, Ms Rybody, it’s funny that you should ask this for, truly, this has become the biggest fashion question – possibly even the only fashion question – in not just the world, but the entire cosmos. For anyone who might have missed it, last week there was some dinky story about a probe landing on a comet for the first time ever. I know what you’re thinking: “Probe, schmobe, get to the real issue here – what was one of the scientists wearing?!?!?!?” Glad to be of service! The project scientist, Dr Matt Taylor, appeared on TV wearing a shirt patterned with images of semi-clothed women that I assume (not being an expert in either of these fields) reference video games and heavy metal albums. Cue internet rage! Everything that followed was utterly predictable, but not especially edifying. The story went through the five cycles of internet rage: initial amusement; astonishment; outrage; backlash to the outrage; humiliated apology. First, our attention was drawn to the shirt via some sniggering tweets; this was swiftly followed by shock and its usual accompaniment, outrage, with some women suggesting the shirt reflected a sexism at the heart of the science community. As generally happens when a subject takes a feminist turn on the internet, the idiots then turned up, with various lowlifes telling the women who expressed displeasure at the shirt to go kill themselves. (This is not an exaggeration, and there is no need to give these toerags further attention in today’s discussion.)

And: 

Just as a simple error on the part of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s driver led to the start of the first world war, so this stupid shirt sparked the beginning of World War Shirt. The scientist knew he had to respond and so, during what I am told by youngsters is called a “Google Hangout”, Dr Smith issued a tearful apology for his shirt. Rumours that the offending shirt, stiff with dried salty tears, has been spotted in Dr Smith’s local charity shop have yet to be confirmed.

Look, I didn’t especially like his shirt, but I also don’t think one can expect much more of a heavily inked dude with a well-established penchant for bad T-shirts. As a cursory search on Google Images (hard research here, people!) proves, this one, while not in the best of taste, was clearly part of that tendency. Yes, it’s an embarrassing shirt and yes, it was a stupid shirt to wear on international TV. But the man is – classic batty scientist cliche – so absentminded that, according to his sister, he regularly loses his car in car parks. So if Taylor committed any crime, it was a crime of bad taste and stupidity rather than burn-him-at-the-stake sexism.

And, well said conclusion: 

I totally understand why some women were offended by Taylor’s shirt, and I especially understand the frustration felt by female scientists who feel marginalised enough in their profession without high-profile men wearing shirts featuring half-naked women. But I can’t help but feel that outrage would be better spent on complaining about how few women were present in the control room for the probe landing. There are so many signifiers of sexism in the world and – I believe (again, not an expert in this field) – the science world that to attack a man for his shirt feels a little bit like fussing at a leaky tap when the whole house is under a tidal wave. Some people online have suggested that Taylor’s shirt proves he is a misogynist, or that he sees women purely as sex objects, or that he revels in marginalising them. Personally, if I saw a male colleague wearing that shirt, my reaction would be amazement that a grown man has the fashion taste of a 13-year-old. There is a difference – and I concede, the difference may be fuzzy in some cases – between enjoying the weird fantasy-world depiction of women, and seeing actual women as sex objects. Taylor has the right to wear whatever pig-ugly shirt he likes, and people have the right to be outraged by it. But when that outrage leads to a grown man weeping on TV, perhaps we all need to ask if this outrage is proportionate. My God, I’m a fashion bitch and even I don’t want to make anyone cry over my comments about their clothes.

November 19, 2014 in Manliness, Masculinities, Technology, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

"What Doctors Don't Know about LGBT Health"

From the Atlantic:

Medicine has not traditionally been very kind to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. While homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1973, and was no longer considered a disorder, attempts by doctors to “treat” it persist even today. Though research and understanding of LGBT healthcare has improved in recent years, the social stigma and discrimination faced by LGBT people leads to health disparities that put them at higher risk for certain conditions. This is also the case with those who are gender non-conforming, or who are born with atypical sex anatomy (sometimes called “intersex,” though the medical term for the condition is “disorders of sex development,” or DSD).

 And: 

With all that in mind, the American Association of Medical Colleges released new guidelines earlier this week on how to improve med school curricula to better prepare young doctors to treat their LGBT, gender non-conforming, and DSD patients. Authors of the publication spanned all aspects of the medical profession, from psychiatry to genetics to clinical practice. I spoke with Kristen Eckstrand, a fourth-year medical student at Vanderbilt University, chair of the AAMC Advisory Committee on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Sex Development, and editor of the guidelines about what doctors need to know to treat their patients effectively and respectfully.

 

 

November 19, 2014 in Healthcare, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pregnant Representative Denied Proxy Vote

WaPo, Democrats Denied a Proxy Vote to a Pregnant Congresswoman. Here's the issue.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who is eight months pregnant and cannot travel to Washington, will not be allowed to vote by proxy in the upcoming leadership battles, as Democrats refused to make an exception to their hard-and-fast rules about proxy voting.

 

National Journal reports that Duckworth, a Iraq War veteran and double amputee, wrote a letter to her colleagues, asking that she be allowed to participate in the votes:

I think Nancy got this one wrong. Pelosi Dismisses "Fuss" Over Denial of Proxy Vote to Pregnant Lawmaker

Pelosi raised eyebrows last week when she emerged as a leading opponent of Duckworth's request, not least because the California liberal has made women's empowerment issues — including efforts to bolster family leave for working women — a central plank of the Democrats' policy platform.***

 

Pelosi, didn't mention the Eshoo-Pallone contest Monday, but said she spoke with Duckworth — "a lovely conversation" — and urged her to savor the experience of becoming a mother. 

 

"I was one of the ones who said to Congresswoman Duckworth, 'Don't come back here. This is a most glorious experience of your life, the center of the universe will change for you when you have this precious new baby,' " Pelosi said.

Umm...  Is this a senior woman mentor who has climbed to success pulling up the ladder behind her?   "In my day, we didn't grant no proxies for pregnancy.  I traveled 5000 miles in my 9th month of pregnancy, in the snow, to give my vote." 

Pelosi made the slippery slope argument.  Once we grant one person an exception, everybody wants one, and then geez, how do you decide.  Well, let's see.  Some, like pregnancy are a protected status.  And others are not.   

BTW, Nancy, Washington Post, it's representative not "congresswoman."

 

    

November 18, 2014 in Work/life | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Better Way to Handle Campus Rape

Jed Rubenfeld, NYT, Mishandling Rape

Our strategy for dealing with rape on college campuses has failed abysmally. Female students are raped in appalling numbers, and their rapists almost invariably go free. Forced by the federal government, colleges have now gotten into the business of conducting rape trials, but they are not competent to handle this job. They are simultaneously failing to punish rapists adequately and branding students sexual assailants when no sexual assault occurred.

 

We have to transform our approach to campus rape to get at the root problems, which the new college processes ignore and arguably even exacerbate.***

 

Is the answer, then, as conservatives argue, deregulation — getting the government off the universities’ backs? Is it, as the Harvard law professors suggest, strengthening procedural protections for the accused?

 

Neither strategy would get to the true problems: rapists going unpunished, the heady mixture of sex and alcohol on college campuses, and the ways in which colleges are expanding the concept of sexual assault to change its basic meaning.***

 

But if schools are genuinely interested in preventing sexual assault, they need to overhaul how they think about assault and what they do about it. Prevention, rather than adjudication, should be a college’s priority.

Here's the response from 75 Yale Law Students. Professor's Campus Rape Op-Ed Gets it Wrong [Thanks Dara Purvis].

More than 75 students at Yale Law School have signed an open letter pushing back on a recent New York Times column about campus rape written by one of their professors.*** 

 

[W]hat has drawn the most ire are Rubenfeld's comments about consent. In his column, Rubenfeld characterizes affirmative consent policies as unenforceable and overly broad, and suggests that such an approach categorically redefines all drunk sex as rape.

 

 

November 18, 2014 in Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, November 17, 2014

"Mothers of accused college rapists fight back"

From Aljazeera America:

“The phone call. The phone call," sighed Allison Strange. "There’s always that one call that you never expect to get.”

On Sept. 6, 2011, the caller ID showed her son's cell phone, but the voice on the other end wasn't Josh. Her son had been arrested for rape.

Josh Strange avoided prosecution, but he did face the justice of Auburn University, where he was a sophomore. Under federal civil rights law, colleges and universities have to conduct their own investigations into sexual assault reports, separate from a criminal one. And after a 99-minute hearing, the discipline committee – chaired by a university librarian  – reached its decision.

“Josh was as white as a piece of notebook paper, and just looked like he had been punched in the stomach,” remembered Allison Strange, who was outside the hearing room. “I walked up and I looked, and Josh said, ‘Mom, I’m gone. They don’t want me here anymore. I can’t stay. They’ve expelled me.’”

In the aftermath, Allison and Josh Strange formed the group Families Advocating for Campus Equality that pushes for universities to get out of the business of adjudicating sexual assault cases. Allison Strange wants those cases to be left to the criminal justice system, and she says you only need to look at her son's case to understand why. 

 

November 17, 2014 in Family, Manliness, Masculinities, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Child Custody Laws v. Best Interest of the Child?

Prof. DiFonzo of Hofstra Law writes:

The November 2014 elections included a North Dakota voter initiative emblematic of the vigorous debate taking place nationwide about child custody.

The “Parental Rights Initiative” required courts to award “equal parenting time” to both parents after divorce or separation. The measure was defeated by a sizeable margin (62% to 38%) but it represents only the latest round in a combustible campaign to change how child custody cases are decided.

And: 

An important 2014 study shows that child custody norms are significantly changing in the 21st century, with the proportion of parents sharing custody rising dramatically. In fact, we reached a major milestone in the past decade: for the first time since the mid-19th century, custodial arrangements that did not provide sole custody to mothers constituted a majority.

The vocabulary of child custody is also adapting to shared parenting.

“Decision making” and “parenting time” are replacing “legal custody” and “physical custody.” The modern terms reflect a cultural pivot toward mutual child rearing responsibilities rather than declaring a winner and a loser. On balance, then, it appears that our society has adapted the best-interest-of-the-child standard to provide some variant of shared custody. In custody cases today, both parents increasingly enjoy significant, though not necessarily equal, amounts of parenting time.

 And: 

Legally enforceable presumptions, such as the one proposed and rejected in North Dakota or the one that the Governor of Minnesota vetoed in 2012, are problematic. An equal parenting presumption shifts the starting point for a custody determination from the child’s best interests to how the parents will divide the 168 hours in a week so that each parent handles half the child rearing.

A 50/50 presumption alters the critical issue from what’s best for the child to how we can treat the parents equally. That’s not the same question at all. A legal presumption of equal parenting time effectively converts the current focus on the child’s welfare to a best-interests-of-the-parents standard.

 

November 17, 2014 in Family | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

ISIS sells kidnapped girls to slavery

From the NYT:

KHANKE, Iraq — The 15-year-old girl, crying and terrified, refused to release her grip on her sister’s hand. Days earlier, Islamic State fighters had torn the girls from their family, and now were trying to split them up and distribute them as spoils of war.

The jihadist who had selected the 15-year-old as his prize pressed a pistol to her head, promising to pull the trigger. But it was only when the man put a knife to her 19-year-old sister’s neck that she finally relented, taking her next step in a dark odyssey of abduction and abuse at the hands of the Islamic State.

 

November 16, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

DC Circuit Draws Line in the Sand Limiting Hobby Lobby's Reach

NPR, Court Rejects Challenge to Obamacare Rules on Contraceptives

The decision is the first since the U.S. Supreme Court last June ruled that some for-profit companies may, like religious nonprofits, opt out of providing birth control coverage in their insurance plans. In the cases that have followed, various religious nonprofits have maintained, as they did in the Washington case, that the opt-out provision itself is a "substantial burden" on religion, and thus, that it violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law enacted to enhance religious rights.

 

In rejecting that claim, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said that "Religious objectors do not suffer substantial burdens ... where the only harm to them is that they sincerely feel aggrieved by their inability to prevent what other people would do ... "

 

These religious objectors have no right, the court said, "to be free from the unease, or even anguish" of knowing that others are legally entitled to receive or provide birth control. The court noted that birth control coverage was added to the Affordable Care Act because it accounts for a large part of women's preventive health care costs.

 

Writing for the 3-0 court panel, Judge Cornelia Pillard said the challengers' argument that the opt out harms them by triggering substitute coverage makes little sense in light of the government's need to carry out a duly enacted program.

Read the full decision here Priests for Life v. US Dep't of Human Services

 

 

November 15, 2014 in Family, Religion, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)