The American Civil Liberties Union on Friday filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for its decision to drop a requirement under the Affordable Care Act that employers offer employees free contraception.
The move comes hours after the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services issued the interim rules, which apply to nearly all publicly traded companies. The rules allow employers to refuse to provide contraception based on religious or moral grounds.
The ACLU, which was joined by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West in the lawsuit, filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. They are being represented by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. The team includes Alexis Coll-Very, Marissa Lambert and Casey Mathews, of the firm’s Palo Alto office; and Linton Mann III, Matthew Bricker, Julia Heald, Larry Huang and Meredith Karp, of the firm’s New York offices.
In the lawsuit, the ACLU argues that the interim rules violate the Establishment Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by authorizing and promoting religiously motivated and other forms of discrimination against women seeking reproductive health care.
“The Trump administration is forcing women to pay for their boss’ religious beliefs,” said ACLU senior staff attorney Brigitte Amiri in a statement. “We’re filing this lawsuit because the federal government cannot authorize discrimination against women in the name of religion or otherwise.”
Dave Regan, president of SEIU-UHW, said: “With the stroke of a pen, the Trump administration has shamelessly attempted to rip away the rights of untold numbers of women to receive essential health care, under the warped facade of ‘religious freedom.’”
Regan added: “Apparently, ‘religious freedom’ to this administration is the freedom to allow bosses to make medical decisions for and discriminate against female employees. Women in the workplace need compassionate care, not doors slammed in their faces by their employers.”
The complaint claims, “Removing barriers to contraception by providing access to the full range of contraception without cost has been shown to make meaningful differences in women’s lives.”
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