Medical Groups Issue Amicus Brief in Support of Contraception Access

“Decisions concerning contraceptive use, like all health care decisions, should be made by patients in consultation with their health care professionals.”

New York, NY— The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Physicians for Reproductive Health (Physicians), the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Nurses Association, along with other medical groups, have filed an amicus brief before the United States Supreme Court in Zubik v. Burwell. In March, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether the accommodation offered to religiously affiliated organizations by the Affordable Care Act violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The amicus brief explains that contraception is essential to women’s health and well-being, a critical component of preventive care, and integral to the health of families.

Background: In implementing the contraceptive benefit, the Obama Administration accommodated certain employers with religious objections to birth control by allowing them to opt out of covering it for their employees, provided that they fill out a form notifying their insurer, or the government, of the employer’s objection. If the employer provides such notice, the insurer would then provide coverage to the employee at no cost to the employer. Despite this, several employers have sued the Administration, alleging that the accommodation violates RFRA. Now, the Supreme Court will review seven of these challenges as part of Zubik v. Burwell.

Excerpt of amicus brief: The contraception coverage requirement recognizes that women of childbearing age have unique health needs and that contraception counseling and services are essential components of women’s preventive health care. Decisions concerning contraceptive use, like all health care decisions, should be made by patients in consultation with their health care professionals based on the best interests of the patient. This is best accomplished when contraceptive coverage is provided within the same overall framework as a woman’s other health care services in consultation with a woman’s chosen provider. The accommodation accomplishes this, while at the same time respecting an employer’s sincerely held religious objections to contraception….

Under the accommodation, prescription contraceptives are covered seamlessly and automatically as part of a woman’s health insurance package. If access to appropriate, cost-free contraception is removed from women’s routine health care services or is made more difficult to obtain, the likely result is that many women will simply not use contraception or will use an imperfect form of contraception inconsistently or improperly, with a concomitant increase in unintended pregnancies with all their consequences.  

The amicus brief can be read and downloaded here: http://bit.ly/1Q3nBux

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for March 23.

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