Woman speaking with a doctor

Reproductive Health

The ability of Americans to access reproductive health services is under full-scale assault from groups who seek to impose their religious beliefs on others, and change the law to prevent women from making decisions about their own bodies. From laws allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control; to outlandish restrictions that are closing abortion providers across the country; to Supreme Court cases claiming a religious right to deny one’s employees access to reproductive health care — the Religious Right is relentless in its attacks on access to contraception and abortion.


That safe, affordable, easily available contraception has been an unprecedented boon to society is accepted by all but those with a religious axe to grind. The idea of sex without the purpose of procreation is a threatening one to some religious groups, leading to their ongoing campaign against contraception.

  • The Contraceptive Mandate. The Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”) included, for the first time, an affirmative requirement that preventive health services, including all forms of prescription contraception, be provided at no additional cost to plan holders. Conservative religious groups and companies promptly sued, sued, and sued again.
    • The Supreme Court in March heard oral arguments from Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods Specialties, two for-profit corporations seeking a religious exemption from the Contraceptive Mandate. They claimed not only that the owners’ religious beliefs were offended by employees having access to contraception, but that the corporations themselves had religious beliefs that warranted protection. CFI, on behalf of a group of secular organizations, filed an amicus brief, arguing that a religious exemption that places a burden on a third party violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. If the Court rules in favor of corporations having religious beliefs, there will be a flood of claims for religious exemptions: from Jehovah’s Witnesses seeking to avoid insuring blood transfusions to Christian Scientists seeking to avoid providing health insurance at all. Whatever the result of this case, CFI will continue to fight for the principle that an owner’s private religious beliefs should not trump the secular rights of the employees.
    • 39 non-profit organizations, such as the University of Notre Dame, have filed to be exempted from the Contraceptive Mandate. Religious non-profits were given an extremely generous opt-out clause by the Obama administration. If a religious organization did not wish to provide contraception coverage, it simply needed to sign a form saying so, and the coverage would be provided by the insurance company without cost to, or participation by, the religious non-profit. That such an accommodation was not sufficient indicates the true agenda of the religious groups – it is not to avoid involvement in the provision of contraception, but instead to limit employees’ access to contraception. Their unconstitutional aim is to force their religious beliefs onto the population at large. CFI is currently seeking to file an amicus brief in support of the government against this flagrant imposition of religious dogma onto private health care decisions.
  • “Conscience Clauses”
    • 95% of American women use contraception at some time in their lives. Over 50% of American women rely on prescription methods, such as the oral contraceptive pill, IUDs, and Plan B. In order to restrict access to these methods, religious groups have invented a fallacious religious freedom claim – that medical professionals should not be required to do their jobs (supply prescribed medication) when doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs. As a result, multiple states have passed so-called “conscience clauses” permitting pharmacists to refuse to fill valid prescriptions. 13 states currently allow health care providers to refuse to provide contraception services, including 6 that explicitly provide for pharmacists to refuse service (AZ, AR, GA, IL, MS, SD). CFI believes such laws infringe on a woman’s right to medical care, and will continue to oppose such laws when they are proposed, and work to repeal such laws that already exist.


Since Roe v. Wade in 1973, the United States has recognized that a woman has a constitutional right to abortion services early in her pregnancy. This decision has never been accepted by the Religious Right, and they have worked ceaselessly to get the decision overturned or rendered moot.


This section will be updated as news develops on this topic.