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NWLC Submits Brief In Conestoga Wood v. Sebelius, Supporting Contraceptive Coverage Benefit

April 22, 2013

(Washington, D.C.) The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) today submitted an amicus brief to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation v. Sebelius. At the heart of the case is whether a for-profit company must comply with an important benefit in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that ensures women access to insurance coverage for birth control without any out-of-pocket costs.

Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation, a company that makes and sells wood cabinets based in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and its owners have petitioned the court for an exemption from the ACA’s contraceptive coverage benefit. The plaintiffschallenge regulations implemented by the Department of Health & Human Services on several grounds, including an alleged violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

NWLC’s brief underscores the compelling and vitally important interests the government has in including the contraceptive coverage benefit – namely, promoting public health and gender equality.

The following statement is from NWLC Vice President for Health and Reproductive Rights Judy Waxman:

“This challenge must fail. There is no violation of religious freedom here because the regulations requiring contraceptive coverage do not substantially burden the company owners’ exercise of religion. They are free to exercise their religion as they see fit, but cannot impose their beliefs on their employees. The Center’s brief focuses on the compelling governmental interests promoted by these regulations, including the need for contraceptive coverage to help women plan their pregnancies and protect their health and that of their children and for promoting gender equality by giving women the ability to participate in society. The contraceptive coverage regulation is not only appropriate but also makes good sense because it ensures that birth control is available to more women with fewer obstacles.”

The National Women’s Law Center is joined on these briefs by a wide range of national, state and regional organizations dedicated to ensuring women’s access to this critically important benefit.

For more information, visit: http://www.nwlc.org/resource/nwlc-amicus-brief-supporting-contraceptive-coverage-benefit