In July 2020, NWLC and its partners filed a lawsuit to block the Trump Administration’s attack on the Health Care Rights Law, also known as Section 1557 of Affordable Care Act (ACA), which prohibits discrimination in healthcare based on sex, race, color, national origin, age, or disability.

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a regulation that properly interpreted Section 1557 to provide important civil rights protections. Notably, the 2016 Rule clarified that Section 1557’s prohibition on sex discrimination includes protections from discrimination based on pregnancy, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery therefrom, childbirth or related medical conditions, sex stereotyping, and gender identity. This Rule made clear that Section 1557 provides critical protection for access to abortion and pregnancy-related care and that you cannot be mistreated or refused healthcare because you are transgender or because you have had an abortion.

In 2020, the Trump Administration published a final rule that rolled back nearly all of the protections in the 2016 rule. This Rollback Rule eliminated the explicit protections for LGBTQ individuals and incorporated sweeping religious and abortion exemptions that created a license to discriminate in healthcare.

Shortly after the Rollback Rule was published, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of Darren Lazor, a transgender man who has experienced discrimination in healthcare; the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth (BAGLY); Callen-Lorde Community Health Center; Campaign for Southern Equality; Equality California; Fenway Health; Indigenous Women Rising; NO/AIDS Task Force (CrescentCare); and Transgender Emergency Fund of Massachusetts. We were joined by our partners the Harvard Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Transgender Law Center, and the law firm Hogan Lovells.

On November 18, 2020, we filed a brief opposing the government’s attempt to have our case dismissed, detailing the harm that the Rollback Rule will cause to communities and to our clients.

On August 18, 2021, the federal district court permitted plaintiffs to continue to pursue several of our claims, while postponing consideration of others that are part of other court cases challenging the rule, and dismissing only some limited parts of the suit.

On March 20, 2024, we filed a motion for partial summary judgment, urging the district court to vacate the Rollback Rule once and for all and to set guardrails to guide future interpretations of Section 1557.

Legal Documents:

Amended Complaint 9.18.20

Brief in Opposition to Government’s Motion to Dismiss BAGLY v. HHS 11.18.20

Order Denying In Part Motion to Dismiss 2021.08.18 

Brief in Support of Plaintiffs’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment