(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Justice seeking information about 14 court cases challenging the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) birth control benefit. In May 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Zubik v. Burwell, sent these cases back to lower courts, ordering the government and employers to find a way to accommodate religious exercise while still ensuring that female employees get birth control coverage at no cost to them.
NWLC is filing this FOIA request to learn about the nature and progression of discussions that the Trump Administration has repeatedly said through a series of status reports and motions it is having with employers involved in the cases without providing any detail.
“It has been over a year since the Supreme Court sent Zubik v. Burwell back to the lower courts, and yet employees remain in the dark about whether they will have critical birth control coverage guaranteed to them by law,’’ said Gretchen Borchelt, NWLC Vice President for Reproductive Rights and Health. “Women have the right to know if the Trump Administration is defending this benefit or not. Amid larger attacks on women’s health, we are watching these cases closely and will fiercely safeguard this crucial benefit.”
In addition, NWLC plans to join Americans United for Separation of Church and State today in representing students at Notre Dame who have intervened in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals case, University of Notre Dame v. Price, one of the cases challenging the ACA’s birth control benefit.
“Religious freedom doesn’t give employers and universities the right to block others’ access to birth control,” Richard B. Katskee, Legal Director at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said. “The Notre Dame case is the only one in which women who are at risk of losing contraceptive coverage have a real voice in court. We are pleased that NWLC will be joining with us as we continue the fight to ensure that our clients get the critical health services to which they are entitled.”
The National Women’s Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women’s equality and opportunity. The Center focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including economic security, education, employment and health, with special attention given to the concerns of low-income women. For more information on the Center, visit: www.nwlc.org.