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Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Civil Rights

Posted by Abigail Bar-Lev, Fellow | Posted on: June 01, 2015 at 04:27 pm

Today the Supreme Court issued a major victory for civil rights in its 8-1 EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores [PDF] decision.  More surprising than the favorable decision or the fact that it was nearly unanimous, is the author of the majority opinion: Justice Scalia. According to Justice Scalia and the majority of the Court, Abercrombie may have violated a job applicant’s civil rights when it rejected her application because she wore a hijab, even though her religious beliefs never came up in the interview.

The case focused on Samantha Elauf, a practicing Muslim who had applied for a sales position with Abercrombie Kids. Following an interview with the store manager, who rated her as qualified for hire, the store manager was concerned that Samantha’s head scarf might violate the store’s Look Policy, which prohibited employees from wearing “caps.” The district manager told the store manager that all headwear, religious or not, violates the store’s Look Policy, and directed the store manager to therefore not hire Samantha. Samantha filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the EEOC sued Abercrombie on Samantha’s behalf for violating her religious rights under Title VII.

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Working for a "Shift" on Abortion Stigma in Texas

Posted by Sharon Levin, Director of Federal Reproductive Health Policy | Posted on: May 29, 2015 at 04:34 pm

As many of you know, due to several extreme anti-abortion bills, over half the abortion clinics in Texas have been forced to close. Amy Hagstrom Miller, who led the fight against the Texas laws, is still fighting. She has just launched a new non-profit called Shift, because, as she says, she is “so over” abortion stigma.

Amy is the founder of Whole Women’s Health, a group of feminist clinics that provides holistic health care for women — including abortion. Whole Women’s Health was founded in Texas, and for the past few decades Amy has been at the forefront of the fight for women’s health and constitutional rights in that state.

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AB 775: One More Reason to Love California

Posted by Rachel Easter, Fellow | Posted on: May 29, 2015 at 02:15 pm

California is the best. I may be biased because I used to live there, but it really is a phenomenal state.

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Proposed Regulation Tells Federal Contractors: Play by the Rules

Yesterday the Obama administration released a proposed rule to implement the Fair Pay & Safe Workplaces Executive Order, which was signed by President Obama in 2014. The proposed rule is the first step toward making good on the executive order’s message to private contractors: if you have the honor of doing business with the federal government, you must follow the law.

This proposed rule outlines steps the Administration will take to ensure that federal contractors that violate our nation’s labor and employment laws start playing by the rules again. In an effort to protect the millions of workers employed by private companies who have been awarded government contracts, the executive order required federal contractors to report their labor and employment law violations.

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Texas Considers a Bill Banning Insurance Coverage of Abortion

Posted by Rachel Easter, Fellow | Posted on: May 26, 2015 at 10:20 am

Texans are a competitive group, but lately Texas politicians are seeking a record no one should want—the worst state for women. Right now, Texas is ranked among the six worst states for women but if Texas politicians have their way, it may soon be the worst. Thanks to budget cuts and abortion restrictions, Texans already have a hard time accessing reproductive health care—from cervical cancer screenings to abortion. Now, the Texas House is set to vote on SB 575, an extreme coverage ban that would prevent all private insurance plans in the state from providing coverage of abortion as part of a comprehensive health plan. If this bill passes it will make it even harder for women in Texas to get an abortion.

Imposing Financial Barriers that Endanger Women’s Health

Currently, insurance companies in Texas can cover abortion as part of a comprehensive insurance plan. In the absence of any ban, most private plans do provide coverage. But SB 575 will take that coverage away from many women and leave them to shoulder the cost of abortion alone.

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I Know All About The ACA’s Breastfeeding Benefit, and I Couldn’t Get Services Covered

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: May 26, 2015 at 10:00 am

Last week, the National Women’s Law Center issued the third report in a series examining insurance plan compliance with the Affordable Care Act, State of Breastfeeding Coverage: Health Plan Violations of the Affordable Care Act. Previous reports on women’s health coverage and birth control coverage found extensive violations of the law. The third report examines insurance plan noncompliance with the ACA’s breastfeeding benefits and comes to similar conclusions.

The ACA Is a Huge Step Forward

The ACA made dramatic improvements in women’s health coverage. The ACA ensures that health insurance companies can no longer discriminate against women, and requires plans to offer women coverage for maternity care and prescription drugs. And they must cover preventive services, such as breastfeeding supports and supplies and birth control, without any copayments, deductibles or coinsurance.

Health Insurance Plans Must Comply With the Law

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Religious Refusal Laws Threaten Access to Health Care

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: May 22, 2015 at 04:22 pm

This post is cross-posted from AIDS United

In 2011, Joao Simoes, a gay HIV positive man was denied HIV medication by a doctor who, according to Simoes, stated, “This is what he gets for going against God’s will.” Unfortunately, Simoes’s experience was far from unique. Almost 20% of HIV-positive individuals report being denied health care.

Refusals to provide care can threaten not only an individual’s health but public health as well by contributing to the spread of HIV. Perhaps as important, a refusal, or the fear of being refused care, can lead people living with HIV to distrust health care workers. This fear can discourage people from disclosing personal information that might be essential to their care and lead people to avoid the health care system all together or to delay getting necessary care.

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Texas Activist Speaks About Proposed Abortion Restrictions

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: May 21, 2015 at 02:10 pm

In Texas, a new bill would make it even harder for pregnant minors to get an abortion by adding extra barriers to an already burdensome process. In the following blog post, Emily Rooke-Ley from Jane's Due Process, an organization that provides legal representation to  pregnant minors in Texas, tells us first-hand how these unnecessary and dangerous hoops would harm Texas adolescents:

Texas Legislators Are Putting Pregnant Teens in Harm's Way

by Emily Rooke-Ley, cross-posted from RH Reality Check

I remember my first time answering the hotline for Jane’s Due Process, a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation for pregnant minors in Texas. Holding back tears, I listened anxiously to a young woman, whom I will call Gaby, explain her home life and her pregnancy, asking me to help her obtain a judicial bypass, which would allow her to obtain an abortion without a parent or guardian’s consent. She was just as mature as I am—probably more. “Well the thing is,” she said to me, her voice exuding a kind of tough conviction, “I just can’t bring a baby into this world right now.” 

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