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Shari Inniss-Grant, Fellow

Shari Inniss-Grant was a Georgetown Women’s Rights and Public Policy Fellow for Reproductive Rights at the National Women’s Law Center. She focused on researching and tracking litigation opposing the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage benefit, organizing the Reproductive Law & Policy 101 summer training, and advancing reproductive health care. While she grew up in St. Thomas, Barbados, she moved to Washington, DC to study English Literature at Howard University before attending law school. During her time at Yale Law School, Shari explored the politics of intersectionality through the Rebellious Lawyering Conference; worked with the LGBT Litigation Project; served as director for the Temporary Restraining Order Project, a domestic violence initiative; helped a client apply for legal relief through VAWA as an intern at New Haven Legal Assistance; and participated in the Lowenstein Human Right Clinic, where her small team worked with the American Civil Liberties Union to investigate the trafficking of Third Country Nationals (TCNs) on American bases by US government contractors and publish “Victims of Complacency: The Ongoing Trafficking and Abuse of Third Country Nationals by U.S. Government Contractors.

My Take

Although the Lawsuits Keep Coming, the Birth Control Benefit is a Gain Women Can Celebrate

Posted by Shari Inniss-Grant, Fellow | Posted on: July 03, 2013 at 02:30 pm

While the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage benefit makes birth control and quality reproductive health care more accessible and affordable for women than ever before,helping women to avoid unintended pregnancies and better care for themselves and their children, opponents have not given up on their attempts to roll back that progress. These include the U.S. House of Representatives’ 37 ineffective attempts to repeal the federal health care law, and state legislation that attacks the birth control coverage guarantee.

And then there are the lawsuits. The lawsuits just keep coming — many from for-profit companies. The cases are challenging the requirement under the health care law that all new insurance plans provide birth control coverage, without cost-sharing.

A new case was filed last week by a West Virginia-based corporation engaged in selling and servicing motor vehicles. While Holland Chevrolet’s 150 full-time employees receive employer based group health insurance, the company has always denied female employees and dependents access to the full range of birth control. 

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What Do Auto Parts Have to do with Contraception: Autocam, the ACA, and Why Women in Manufacturing Can’t Seem to Win

Posted by Shari Inniss-Grant, Fellow | Posted on: June 11, 2013 at 11:44 am

Women in manufacturing continue to lose out. As we’ve said before, women aren’t seeing any of the gains from the recovery in the manufacturing sector. While the nation has gained over half a million manufacturing jobs since 2010, women have lost 36,000. In March alone, women lost 12,000 manufacturing jobs.

But these aren’t the only kinds of losses hitting women in the manufacturing industry; even women who have managed to hold onto their jobs might find themselves stripped of some benefits if employers like John Kennedy, CEO of Autocam, have their way.

The man at the helm of Autocam Corporation, a Michigan-based for-profit company that manufactures auto parts and medical equipment, is arguing he should have the right to deny employees and dependents all forms of contraception. The district court did not agree. It denied his request for a preliminary injunction, stating that, “Implementing the challenged mandate will keep the locus of decision-making in exactly the same place: namely, with each employee, and not the Autocam plaintiffs.

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Let’s Talk About Wisconsin AB 216: What WI Politicians Don’t Understand About Women’s Need to Access Birth Control and Abortion

Posted by Shari Inniss-Grant, Fellow | Posted on: June 07, 2013 at 09:49 am

The Wisconsin Assembly is considering a bill that would undermine women’s ability to control their reproductive health. AB 216  targets both access to abortion AND access to contraception—a move that a member of the Committee on Health reviewing the bill described as “ironic.” I would add ‘poorly informed, contrary to reason, and designed to undermine women’s ability to control their health care decisions.’

If passed, the bill would weaken women’s reproductive health in two ways:

  1. It would ban insurance coverage of abortion for state employees.
  2. It would allow certain kinds of bosses to take away women’s access to insurance coverage of birth control.

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Conestoga Tries to Put Women's Decisions About Birth Control into Their Bosses' Hands

Posted by Shari Inniss-Grant, Fellow | Posted on: May 30, 2013 at 10:25 am

What do a crafts supply chain, construction contractor, and health food company have in common? Over the past two weeks these for-profit companies have tried to convince appellate courts that their employees should be denied full insurance coverage of birth control at their bosses' discretion. Today, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation — a wood cabinet manufacturer with 950 employees — becomes the fourth for-profit company to try to convince a circuit court in oral arguments for preliminary injunction that they should not have to comply with the federal birth control benefit

Both the district court and the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals have rejected Conestoga's attempts to get out of complying with the birth control benefit by arguing that a for-profit company's religious beliefs should overrule the government's interest in protecting women and children's health. However the company hasn't heeded the courts' warning that they're unlikely to win. 

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Hobby Lobby Tries Again to Take Women's Decisions on Birth Control Away from Them

Posted by Shari Inniss-Grant, Fellow | Posted on: May 23, 2013 at 11:05 am

Today, Hobby Lobby will try to explain to all the judges on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals why employees of a craft store chain should be denied full insurance coverage of birth control at their bosses' discretion. Hobby Lobby is the largest of the 31 for-profit companies attempting to challenge the federal birth control benefit, with over 13,000 employees who will be affected by what the judges decide. 

This is Hobby Lobby's fourth try at getting a court to accept its argument that the religious beliefs of a for-profit company should overrule women's health and that it should not have to cover some forms of birth control. The district court that first denied Hobby Lobby's request to get out of providing the full birth control benefit said that any burden on its owners' religious beliefs was too "indirect and attenuated" to meet the legal standard

"[T]he particular burden of which plaintiffs complain is that funds, which plaintiffs will contribute to a group health plan, might, after a series of independent decisions by health care providers and patients covered by [the corporate] plan, subsidize someone else's participation in an activity that is condemned by plaintiff[s'] religion." 

The 10th Circuit said "We agree" when it denied Hobby Lobby's request to temporarily get out of providing the benefit.

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