Reproductive Rights Prof Blog

Editor: Caitlin E. Borgmann
CUNY School of Law

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Two Federal Appeals Courts Issue Conflicting Rulings on ACA Subsidies

The Hill: ObamaCare subsidies in jeopardy, by Elise Viebeck:

A pillar of ObamaCare was put in jeopardy Tuesday as two appeals courts split on whether the law’s premium subsidies are legal in 36 states. . . .

Politico: How Obama’s court strategy may help save Obamacare, by Josh Gerstein:

Last fall, President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid deployed the “nuclear option” to help get three liberal judges onto the D.C. Circuit appeals court.

Tuesday’s ruling on Obamacare is a dramatic example of why they forced the issue.

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a 2-1 decision that could gut much of Obamacare by preventing the federal government from offering subsidies to many Americans. The two judges in the majority were appointed by Republican presidents.

But the full court now has seven judges appointed by Democrats and four by Republicans. It took only an hour or so for the administration to announce that it plans to ask the entire bench to review the decision. . . .

____________________________________

The D.C. Circuit's decision is available here.  The Fourth Circuit's decision is  here.

July 22, 2014 in In the Courts, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Obama Administration To Revise Accommodation for Certain Religious Non-Profits That Object to Contraception Rule

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Administration to Revise Part of Contraception Rule, by Louise Radnofsky:

Wheaton College Objected to Allowing Contraceptive Coverage to Be Provided by an Insurance Company

The Obama administration said Tuesday it will revise a compromise arrangement for religiously affiliated universities and charities that object to providing contraception in workers' health insurance plans, in response to a Supreme Court order earlier this month.

A majority of Supreme Court justices granted Wheaton College, an Illinois Christian school, a temporary reprieve from contraception coverage requirements in the Affordable Care Act on July 3. That was days after the high court ruled that closely held for-profit companies such as arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby should be allowed to opt out of the provision if their owners have religious objections to certain forms of birth control. . . .

July 22, 2014 in Contraception, In the Courts, President/Executive Branch, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Obama's Anti-Discrimination Executive Order Protecting LGBT Employees Will Not Exempt Religious Groups

The New York Times:  Obama Set to Bar Federal Contractors From Anti-Gay Discrimination, by Julie Hirschfeld Davis:

President Obama plans to sign an executive order on Monday that protects gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees from discrimination by companies that do federal government work, fulfilling a promise to a crucial Democratic constituency, White House officials said on Friday. But the directive will not exempt religious groups, as many of them had sought. . . .

July 19, 2014 in President/Executive Branch, Religion, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Legal Scholars Urge Obama To Resist Calls for Overly Broad Religious Exemption in Anti-Discrimination Executive Order

Columbia Law School press release:  Public Rights/Private Conscience Project Spearheads New Effort:

Legal Scholars Urge President Obama to Resist Calls for Overly Broad Religious Exemption in Proposed Executive Order

New York, July 14, 2014—More than 50 legal scholars today strongly urged President Obama to resist calls for an overly broad religious exemption in a proposed executive order prohibiting sexual orientation and/or gender identity discrimination by federal contractors. 

The effort is being spearheaded by Columbia Law School’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, as part of its recently launched Public Rights/Private Conscience Project. The new initiative is one of the first independent law school projects aimed at re-conceptualizing religious exemptions and the law, particularly as the exemptions impact reproductive and sexual liberty and equality rights.
 
In a letter signed by 54 legal scholars from around the country, Columbia Law School Professor Katherine Franke, Public Rights/Private Conscience Project Director Kara Loewentheil, and Brooklyn Law School Professor Nelson Tebbe argue that the broad exemption urged by some religious leaders and several law professors is not required by the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), or accommodations of religious liberty in other federal non-discrimination laws, including Title VII. 
 
"The Supreme Court's recent opinion in Hobby Lobby and order in Wheaton College do not compel in any way the inclusion of religious exemptions language in an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBT employees of federal contractors," said Franke. "Including an exemption for religious discrimination in an executive order securing work-place rights for LGBT people sends a message that the federal government has a more ambivalent commitment to sexual orientation and gender-identity based discrimination as compared with other forms of workplace equality.”
 
Loewentheil said the letter "reflects an emerging consensus among legal scholars that a proper balance between religious liberty and equal rights can be struck without creating carve-outs for religion in new laws protecting LGBT or reproductive rights."
 
"We are delighted that many prominent scholars in the legal academy signed this letter," Loewentheil said. "The views of these scholars provide responsible counsel to the White House as it considers the wording of an important new executive order securing LGBT and gender identity non-discrimination rules for employers who receive public funding." 
 

July 14, 2014 in Law School, President/Executive Branch, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

President Obama's Statement on Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Obama3White House press release: Statement by the President on Roe v. Wade Anniversary:

Today, as we reflect on the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, we recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health.  We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom.  And we resolve to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children.  Because this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.

January 22, 2014 in Abortion, President/Executive Branch, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Editorial on Contraception Mandate and Religious Objections by Secular Businesses

USA Today editorial: Contraception mandate applies to business: Our view:

If you choose to run a secular moneymaker, you can't claim exemptions unavailable to other businesses.

Controversy over ObamaCare isn't news, but any intrusion into deeply held religious beliefs is particularly contentious, and just such a dispute is underway.

Over the last year, the Affordable Care Act has phased in a requirement that most health insurance plans give women access to FDA-approved contraception methods, including birth control pills and the "morning after pill." The law is right to require this . . . .

August 12, 2013 in Contraception, President/Executive Branch, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Wood Cabinet Company in Challenge to Contraception Mandate

ACLU press release: Third Circuit Rules Against Wood Cabinet Company's Challenge to Contraception Coverage Rule:

CHICAGO – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit today ruled against a Pennsylvania company that makes wooden cabinets and furniture and its owners that wished to avoid compliance with the federal rule requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception. The court upheld a lower court's denial of a preliminary injunction.

This case is one of more than 60 across the country addressing the rule mandating contraception coverage. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, as well as in similar cases recently heard by three other courts of appeals. The ACLU's brief in support of the federal rule urged the court to require Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation to comply with the requirement to provide employees with health insurance coverage for all preventive services, including contraceptive care. With this decision, there is now a split in the circuits.

"While the Constitution ensures that we are entitled to our religious beliefs, it also safeguards against having someone else's beliefs imposed upon us," said Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU. "Businesses cannot deny women coverage for something as fundamental as contraception by using the owners' personal beliefs as an excuse for discrimination."

For more information on the cases challenging the federal contraceptive coverage mandate, go to: 
aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/challenges-federal-contraceptive-coverage-rule.

The decision can be found here:
aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/conestoga-v-sebelius-opinion

July 27, 2013 in Contraception, In the Courts, President/Executive Branch, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

FDA Grants Exclusive Rights to Maker of Plan B One-Step

FDAThe Boston Globe: Plan B One-Step gets exclusive rights, by Deborah Kotz:

The US Food and Drug Administration decided late Monday night to grant exclusive rights to Teva Pharmaceuticals to put its brand name form of emergency contraception on drugstore shelves without any age restrictions for the next three years. Plan B One-Step, Teva’s product, has started to appear in some drugstores this week on shelves next to spermicides and pregnancy tests. . . .

July 23, 2013 in Contraception, Medical News, President/Executive Branch, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Department of Educ. Office for Civil Rights Urges Greater Support for Pregnant and Parenting Students

U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights: Dear Colleague Letter:

Dear Colleague:

We as a nation need to do more to help the hundreds of thousands of young people who become mothers and fathers each year graduate from high school ready for college and successful careers. According to studies cited in the attached pamphlet, Supporting the Academic Success of Pregnant and Parenting Students Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 26 percent of young men and young women combined who had dropped out of public high schools — and one-third of young women — said that becoming a parent was a major factor in their decision to leave school. And, only 51 percent of young women who had a child before age 20 earned their high school diploma by age 22. The educational prospects are worse at the higher-education level. Only 2 percent of young women who had a child before age 18 earned a college degree by age 30. This low education attainment means that young parents are more likely than their peers to be unemployed or underemployed, and the ones who do find jobs will, on average, earn significantly less than their peers.

To help improve the high school and college graduation rates of young parents, we must support pregnant and parenting students so that they can stay in school and complete their education, and thereby build better lives for themselves and their children. . . .

July 9, 2013 in Parenthood, Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, President/Executive Branch, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Final Health Care Rule Retains Contraceptive Insurance Mandate, Despite Religiously Based Objections

The New York Times: Contraceptives Stay Covered in Health Law, by Robert Pear:

Despite strong resistance from religious organizations, the Obama administration said Friday that it was moving ahead with a rule requiring most employers to provide free insurance coverage of contraceptives for women, a decision that has touched off a legal and political battle likely to rage for another year. . . .

June 29, 2013 in Contraception, President/Executive Branch, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Federal Judge Approves Obama Administration's Proposal for Sale of Emergency Contraception

The New York Times: Federal Plan for ‘Morning After’ Pill’s Sale Is Approved, by Pam Belluck:

The long-running lawsuit over emergency contraception finally ended Wednesday evening when a federal judge granted the Obama administration’s proposal to make the best-known morning-after pillavailable to all ages without a prescription. . . .

The Wall Street Journal: Stores Prepare to Widen Access to Plan B Pill, by Jennifer Corbett Dooren:

Drugstores are preparing to change how they stock and sell a widely used emergency contraceptive after the Obama administration agreed to allow the pill to be sold over the counter to customers of all ages. . . .

The New York Times - Motherlode blog: I Got Pregnant at 14. Ask Me About Plan B., by Liz Henry:

When I was 14, I started having sex. At 15, I became a mother.

Over the past decade, I have watched as two presidents disregarded safety and common sense to impose arbitrary age restrictions on over-the-counter emergency contraception for women and teenagers. I’m delighted by the news that the Obama administration has decided to end its efforts to restrict that access based on age, but I can’t stop thinking about the hypocrisy that has only just come to an end: when I became pregnant as a young teenager, my age would have restricted my access to a morning-after pill. But it didn’t make one iota of difference when it came to agreeing to place my daughter with an adoptive family. . . .

FoxNews.com - op-ed: Plan B for all girls -- science finally trumps politics and emotion, by Cathleen London:

Monday, the FDA issued a statement declaring it would approve Plan B One Step (a form of emergency contraception) for over the counter sale without restriction.  

It is about time. 

This decision allows science to trump politics and emotion. . . .

June 13, 2013 in Contraception, In the Courts, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Obama Administration to Drop Efforts to Enforce Age Limit on Emergency Contraceptives

The New York Times: U.S. Drops Bid to Limit Sales of Morning-After Pill, by Michael D. Shear & Pam Belluck:

The Obama administration has decided to stop trying to block over-the-counter availability of the best-known morning-after contraceptive pill for all women and girls, a move fraught with political repercussions for President Obama. . . .

June 11, 2013 in Contraception, In the Courts, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Four Different Appeals Courts Will Consider Federal Contraceptive Coverage Mandate

Politico: Courts to hear birth control mandate lawsuits, by Kathryn Smith & Jennifer Haberkorn:

Obamacare’s birth control mandate will go before four different appeals courts over the next three weeks as private businesses that object to the policy on religious liberty grounds bring a barrage of lawsuits that opponents hope to get before the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as this fall.

On Wednesday, two for-profit companies will ask the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to strike the requirement that they provide employees with insurance coverage that includes birth control and other drugs that they say can cause abortion. Three other companies will present oral arguments in different appeals courts by early June. . . .

May 22, 2013 in Contraception, In the Courts, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Federal Judge Rejects as "Frivolous" Government's Request to Delay Order on "Morning After Pill"

Bloomberg:  'Morning-After' Pill Judge Won't Delay Ruling for Appeal, by Christie Smythe:

A federal judge rejected as “frivolous” a government request to delay the effect of his order giving girls of all ages access to the so-called morning after-pill.

U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman in Brooklyn, New York, refused today to put the ruling on hold while the government appeals his decision that the contraceptive doesn’t require a prescription. He gave officials until May 13 to seek a delay from the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York. . . .

May 10, 2013 in Contraception, In the Courts, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Federal Judge Admonishes Obama Administration for Its Insistence on Limiting Access to Emergency Contraceptive Pill

The New York Times - The Caucus blog: Judge Criticizes Obama Administration as It Appeals Contraception Decision, by Michael D. Shear:

A federal judge on Tuesday angrily accused the Obama administration of hurting poor and minority women by seeking to restrict their access to morning-after contraceptive pills. . . .

Judge Korman, of United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, said he would decide this week whether to freeze implementation of his order while the appeal proceeds. But for the second time in a month, he used his perch on the bench to lecture the Food and Drug Administration and President Obama for their efforts to restrict access to the drug by very young women. . . .

May 9, 2013 in Contraception, In the Courts, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

U.S. Will Appeal Federal Court Ruling Invalidating Age Limits on Emergency Contraceptive Pill

The New York Times:  U.S. to Defend Age Limits on Morning-After Pill Sales, by Pam Belluck & Michael D. Shear:

The Justice Department said on Wednesday that it would appeal a federal judge’s order to make the most common morning-after contraceptive available without a prescription for girls and women of all ages.

The announcement came a day after the Food and Drug Administration said that one well-known morning-after pill, Plan B One-Step, would be made available without a prescription for girls as young as 15 — instead of only to girls ages 17 and over, as has been the case. . . . 

The Los Angeles Times: Government will appeal Plan B emergency birth control ruling, by Monte Morin:

The U.S. attorney's office announced late Wednesday that it would appeal a federal judge's decision to make Plan B One-Step and related emergency birth control pills available to consumers of all ages without a prescription. . . . 

May 2, 2013 in Contraception, In the Courts, President/Executive Branch, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

FDA Announces It Will Make Plan B Available OTC to Women 15 and Older

The Hill - Healthwatch Blog: FDA approves 'morning-after pill' for women 15 and up, by Sam Baker:

The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that the contraceptive known as Plan B should be available without a prescription for all women 15 and older.

The move is sure to stir controversy among social conservatives, some of whom view Plan B as a form of abortion. Unlike other forms of birth control, Plan B is intended for use after sex, rather than before. . . .

The Hill - Healthwatch Blog:  FDA pressed to go further on Plan B, by Sam Baker:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is under pressure from political activists — and some doctors — to remove all age restrictions on the over-the-counter sale of Plan B.

The FDA made waves Tuesday by allowing the sale of Plan B without a prescription to women 15 and older. Its previous policy had restricted the drug to patients 17 and older.

Women's-health advocates said the move from 17 to 15 was a good first step, but doesn't go far enough. . . .

RH Reality Check:  Administration Again Fails on Over-the-Counter Emergency Contraception, by Jodi Jacobson:

Today, in a proposal that can best be described as adding insult to injury, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved making emergency contraception (EC) available over-the-counter for teens and women ages 15 and up. This convoluted proposal from the Obama administration comes despite a court order in early April by U.S. District Court Judge Edward R. Korman to make EC available over-the-counter to all ages within 30 days of his decision. It comes from an administration which pledged to make science the cornerstone of public policy and instead has consistently flouted a wealth of accumulated evidence on emergency contraception. It also comes after several studies showing that current policy requiring prescriptions for some groups and not others has confused so many pharmacists that access to EC has been denied to many who were in fact legally eligible to obtain it quickly. In practice, the new policy will almost certainly perpetuate, not resolve, that confusion. . . . 

The Nation:  Hey, FDA:  Drop the Plan B Restriction, by Jessica Valenti:

Yesterday, the FDA announced that it will make Plan B—also known as emergency contraception (EC) or the morning after pill—available over the counter to women older than 15 years old who can prove their age. This decision comes less than a week before the end of a thirty-day deadline imposed by a federal judge mandating EC be available without a prescription to women of all ages. So despite the FDA’s announcement, the Obama administration still needs to appeal the judge’s decision or request a stay by Monday. . . .

May 1, 2013 in Contraception, Medical News, President/Executive Branch, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 15, 2013

How Obama’s Proposed Budget Affects Reproductive Rights

ACLU (blog): Reproductive Rights and Yesterday's Budget Release, by Sarah Lipton-Lubet:

President Obama yesterday released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2014. Here are five things you should know about how it affects reproductive rights:

Home Rule for the District of Columbia

As he has each year of his presidency, President Obama removed the D.C. abortion ban from his budget proposal. That ban prohibits the District of Columbia from using its own locally raised funds to pay for abortion care for low-income D.C. residents. By contrast, all other states are permitted to use non-federal revenues to pay for abortion care if they so choose. . . .

April 15, 2013 in Abortion, Congress, Poverty, President/Executive Branch, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexuality Education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Federal Court Rules Government Must Remove Restrictions on Emergency Contraception

The New York Times: Judge Orders Morning-After Pill Available for All Ages, by Pam Belluck:

A federal judge ruled Friday that the government must make the most common morning-after pill available over the counter for all ages, instead of requiring a prescription for girls 16 and younger. In his ruling, he also accused the federal government of “bad faith” in dealing with the requests to make the pill universally available. . . .

April 5, 2013 in Contraception, In the Courts, President/Executive Branch, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

What Will the Sequester Mean for Reproductive Health and Access?

Center for American Progress: Cutting Title X Family Planning in the Sequester Hurts Women’s Reproductive Health, by Lindsay Rosenthal:

If the automatic across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester are allowed to take effect tomorrow, Title X—our nation’s family-planning program—could be cut by $15 million in fiscal year 2013.* The cut would be a significant blow to Title X, which has already been cut by more than $23 million over the past two fiscal years—limiting access to family-planning services and causing clinics to cut back on staff and hours.

For more than 40 years, Title X has served primarily low-income women, who rely heavily on community health centers for their reproductive health care. . . .

ThinkProgress: Five Ways The Sequester Will Harm Women, by Lindsay Rosenthal:

If sequestration is allowed to take effect as scheduled on March 1, $1.2 trillion will be automatically removed from the federal budget in across-the-board spending cuts that would potentially reverse our economic recovery. These cuts — which take money out of critical investments in education, public health services and research, disaster preparedness, and national security — would have devastating consequences in communities around the country and would harm all Americans in a number of ways.

Sequestration also institutes several cuts to key public investments that would disproportionately harm women. Low-income women and women of color will be hit hardest by the sequestration. Here are the top five ways in which the sequestration harms women . . . .

March 2, 2013 in Congress, Poverty, President/Executive Branch, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)