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Press Release AG Healey Leads 21 States in Supreme Court Brief Defending ACA Contraceptive Coverage Mandate

Mandate has Provided More Than 62 Million Women Across the Country with Access to Affordable Birth Control
For immediate release:
4/08/2020
  • Office of Attorney General Maura Healey

Media Contact for AG Healey Leads 21 States in Supreme Court Brief Defending ACA Contraceptive Coverage Mandate

Chloe Gotsis

BOSTONMassachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today co-led 21 attorneys general in filing a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in defense of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) requirement that employers include coverage for contraceptive care and services in their health insurance plans.

“Decisions about birth control are for women to make, not their bosses, and certainly not the White House,” AG Healey said. “We are urging the Supreme Court to protect the health, well-being and economic security of women in Massachusetts and across the country by upholding their right to access affordable contraception.”

“As our communities grapple with the COVID-19 public health crisis, the importance of delivering critical preventative care to women and families is more clear than ever,” said AG Becerra. “More than 62 million women have benefited from the Affordable Care Act’s birth control coverage over the last decade. This law not only protects equality in healthcare, it supports women’s ability to control their own reproductive health, and promotes access to education, jobs and financial empowerment. We will continue to fight to keep healthcare decisions between women and their doctors, not their employers.”

The amicus brief supports a lawsuit by Pennsylvania and New Jersey challenging federal regulations implemented by the Trump Administration that authorize employers and universities to deny contraception coverage to female employees, students, and dependents based on religious or moral objections. Pennsylvania and New Jersey secured a nationwide injunction of the regulations on the day they were scheduled to go into effect. The injunction was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

After the injunctions were granted, the federal government, Little Sisters of the Poor, and March for Life asked the Supreme Court to review the cases. The Court agreed to review the case brought by Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Since the ACA was enacted in 2010, most employers that provide health insurance coverage to their employees have been required to include coverage for contraception, at no cost to their employees. As a result of this mandate, more than 55 million women in the United States, including 1.4 million in Massachusetts, have access to the full range of FDA-approved methods of birth control, including the longest-acting and most effective methods, with no out-of-pocket costs.

AG Healey’s Office also has parallel litigation on behalf of Massachusetts against the federal government over the Trump Administration’s rollback of the contraceptive mandate. The case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.       

 Today’s brief argues that the Trump Administration’s rollback of the contraceptive mandate is contrary to Congress’s intention to provide women with full and equal healthcare coverage for preventive care, including coverage for contraception. It also argues that tens of thousands of women will lose their contraceptive coverage if employers are allowed to exempt themselves from the mandate. This loss of coverage will result in a reliance on state-funded programs that will increase the states’ costs associated with the provision of reproductive health care and will likely lead to an increase in unintended pregnancies. The brief further argues that the lower court acted well within its discretion when it temporarily enjoined these sweeping new exemptions in their entirety during the pendency of the litigation, because a nationwide injunction was necessary to give complete relief to Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the particular circumstances of this case and was consistent with the remedies Congress has provided under the Administrative Procedure Act.  

Joining AG Healey and AG Becerra in filing today’s amicus brief are the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia. 

The amicus brief was handled by State Solicitor Bessie Dewar and Assistant Attorneys General Jon Burke, of AG Healey’s Civil Rights Division, and Julie Kobick, of the AG’s Administrative Law Division.

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Media Contact for AG Healey Leads 21 States in Supreme Court Brief Defending ACA Contraceptive Coverage Mandate

Office of Attorney General Maura Healey 

Attorney General Maura Healey is the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
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