Tag Archives: Reproductive Health

Legal case tests religious hospitals’ right to deny procedures

As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Rachel Miller, due to have her second child in late September, agreed with her husband that this would be her last pregnancy and decided she would be sterilized by tubal ligation after giving birth. But her hospital in Redding, owned by Dignity Health in San Francisco, refused to allow her doctor to perform the procedure, saying tubal ligation violates the ethical principles of Catholic health care facilities.

Now Miller’s case could become the springboard for a legal attack on barriers to reproductive procedures — other than abortions — at Catholic hospitals in California, whose numbers are steadily increasing.

“Hospitals that are open to the general public and that receive state money shouldn’t be able to use religion to discriminate or to deny important health care,” said Elizabeth Gill, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who represents Miller. She said the hospital receives state Medi-Cal funds as well as federal funding from both Medi-Cal and Medicare.

In an Aug. 17 letter to Mercy Medical Center in Redding, Gill said the ACLU would go to court unless the hospital reversed course and authorized the sterilization procedure. By denying “pregnancy-related care” to Miller, Gill wrote, the hospital is discriminating on the basis of sex, as defined by California law, and is also allowing “your corporate entity’s religious beliefs” to override a doctor’s medical decision, violating a state law against the corporate practice of medicine.

You can keep reading here.

Reports Detail Violations of the Affordable Care Act

Two studies by the National Women’s Law Center have found that many insurance companies are still charging for birth control, exploiting loopholes that may take years to close. From Jezebel:

In two “State of Coverage” reports … the NWLC found that many major insurers are ignoring the ACA’s new rule that FDA-approved birth control methods should be covered without a co-pay. Insurers do things like putting all hormonal birth control methods together into one category, then pay for just one or two of them. Others don’t cover sterilization, although it’s an approved birth control method that some women might choose, or impose arbitrary age limits, refusing to cover birth control for women over 50. (Which raises the question: do they think women are continuing to take birth control after 50 for the hell of it? Presumably they’re doing it because they can still get pregnant and would rather not.)

The NWLC also found that insurers are putting odd limits on things like maternity leave and breastfeeding supplies, things that are also supposed to be well-covered under the ACA. (Those odd limits include things like refusing to cover more than one ultrasound for a pregnant person; most people get at least two, possibly more if there are complications.)

You can read the reports here.

Obama Administration Is Quietly Racking Up Court Victories For Birth Control, Despite Hobby Lobby

Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress reports on a series of promising developments regarding the birth control rule:

On Wednesday, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld federal rules intended to ensure access to birth control, over a claim that employers who object to following those rules on religious groups should be exempt from them. With that, the Third Circuit became the fourth federal appeals court to reach a similar conclusion in a challenge brought by an employer who objects to some or all forms of birth control, despite concerns that the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby would impede access to contraceptive care.

You can read the full article here.

Deniers of Science: The Anti-Vaccination and Anti-Abortion Movements

Writing on The Huffington Post, David Grimes — a former Centers for Disease Control official turned author —  ties together several anti-science trends, concluding that:

Whether the public health threat is viral or political, medical science should guide health decisions. The alternative to public health policy based on science is”backsliding into medieval ignorance” and reversing decades of medical progress.

Read the entire article here.

Inside The Highly Sophisticated Group That’s Quietly Making It Much Harder To Get An Abortion

Writing at Think Progress, Erica Hellerstein shines a spotlight on one organization’s disturbing work to restrict access to abortion across the United States:

Americans United for Life, founded in 1971 by conservative Catholic L. Brent Bozell, is often described as the primary legal arm of the anti-abortion movement. Its goal is to make abortion inaccessible through an approach many call “incrementalism” — blanketing the country in laws and court cases that choke abortion access at the state level — which contrasts an all-or-nothing absolutist strategy pushing to ban abortion outright. Regardless of their tactics, though, AUL and other anti-abortion advocates all have the same end goal: to abolish abortion in the United States.

You can read the full article here.

Quoting Hobby Lobby, Federal Appeals Court Hands Down Big Victory For Birth Control

ThinkProgress reports on a promising decision by a federal appeals court regarding whether an employer can deny employees health care coverage based on religion:

A federal appeals court in Washington, DC handed down a decision on Friday that could neutralize some of the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby if it is upheld on appeal. Hobby Lobby held that employers with religious objections to birth control have broad immunity from federal rules requiring them to include birth control in their employer-provided health plan. Judge Nina Pillard’s decision in Priests For Life v. Department of Health and Human Services, however, indicates that there are limits to an employer’s ability to deny birth control coverage to their employees.

You can read the full article here.

A Mix of Wins and Losses in the 2014 Midterm Elections

CFI’s Director of Public Policy, Michael De Dora, summarizes noteworthy midterm election results, including a couple wins on the reproductive rights front:

Win: For the third time, Colorado voters rejected an amendment to the state constitution (Amendment 67) — this time by a nearly two-to-one margin — which would have defined a fertilized egg as a legal “person” starting at fertilization.

Win: North Dakota voters, 64% to 36%, rejected an amendment to the state constitution (Measure 1) that stated, “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.'”

Win: Illinois voters approved, 66% to 34%, a non-binding advisory question that asked whether health insurance plans should be required to provide coverage for prescription birth control.

Loss: Tennessee voters, 53% to 47%, approved an amendment to the state constitution (Amendment 1) that will allow the state legislature to enact, amend or repeal state laws regarding abortion, including for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to protect the mother’s life.

You can read the full post here.

Center for Inquiry Urges Federal Government to Protect Contraceptive Mandate

From the newsdesk of the Center for Inquiry’s Office of Public Policy:

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) has submitted formal comments to the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury, urging policymakers at the federal agencies to keep religious exemptions to the contraceptive mandate as narrow as possible.

You can read the full news update, as well as CFI’s  comments, here.