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Can The Supreme Court Take Away Maternity Coverage?

Imagine an insurance market where only 12% of health insurance plans include maternity coverage. Imagine further that if a woman wanted to add maternity coverage, she would have to pay thousands of additional dollars each year and, even then, the insurance would not cover her pregnancy until she passed a one or two year waiting period. If a woman was pregnant when she applied for coverage or had a previous caesarian delivery, she could be denied health insurance.

It shouldn’t be too difficult to imagine, since this was the individual health insurance market in the United States just fifteen months ago.

When LaDonna Appelbaum became pregnant in 2010, she discovered that her health insurance did not cover maternity care — it did not cover any costs related to prenatal care, nor any related to her eventual miscarriage. When she searched for a new policy that would provide these benefits, she was told that she would have to endure a one-year waiting period for pregnancy coverage — and then her premiums would quadruple.

The individual health insurance market failed women like LaDonna before the passage of the Affordable Care Act. On Wednesday, March 4, the Supreme Court will hear a case that could bring those failures back. Read more »

What Are They Thinking? Six States Argue Against Financial Assistance in King v. Burwell—Threatening Nearly 1 Million Women

On March 4th, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in King v. Burwell, a case challenging a core provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Court will decide whether individuals and families will continue to receive tax credits to help purchase insurance on the federally-facilitated health insurance marketplaces. There are currently 37 states that utilize this kind of marketplace.

The loss of tax credits would have dire consequences in these states — we estimate that nearly 7 million women would lose access to affordable coverage. Last year, 86 percent of people who sought coverage in the federally-facilitated marketplaces used tax credits to lower their premiums [PDF], and this year’s enrollees similarly rely on this help. If such a high proportion of Marketplace enrollees lose coverage following the Court’s decision, premiums for remaining enrollees would skyrocket, further destabilizing the market. Read more »

Maryland's Fair Employment Preservation Act Would Restore Strong Protections from Harassment

Sexual harassment remains a pervasive problem in the American workplace, with one in four women reporting being harassed on the job. Yet, in 2013, in Vance v. Ball State University, a narrow 5-to-4 majority of the Supreme Court watered down workplace protections from harassment. On Wednesday, the Maryland House Committee on Health and Government Oversight considered the Fair Employment Preservation Act (HB 42, SB 527)—a bill introduced by Delegate Rosenberg and Senator Raskin that would restore the strong protections from harassment that workers need. Adaku was there to testify for NWLC in support of this important legislation. Read more »

States Take Aim at Roe

Forty-two years ago the Supreme Court recognized that a woman’s right to decide whether to have an abortion is a fundamental right, and the Court stated in no uncertain terms that “The detriment that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman by denying this choice altogether is apparent.” The landmark case changed the lives of millions of American women over the last four decades. And with the right to decide firmly entrenched we all lived happily ever after, right?  Nope. Wrong. Read more »

Mach Mining v. EEOC: When Can an Employer Point Fingers to Avoid Defending Against a Discrimination Charge?

Today, the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Mach Mining v. EEOC, a story about a woman who applied for a position as a miner with Mach Mining and filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after she was denied the job. The EEOC investigated the company, and sued Mach Mining for systemic hiring discrimination against women on the basis that they have never hired a female miner. And yet the story being told at the Supreme Court today is not the one you think. It’s not about sex discrimination, it’s not about the company’s practices, it’s not about the fact that the share of women in the mining industry has remained shockingly low— less than one half of one percent—for decades, due in large part to the discrimination that blocks women from entering and staying in the field. Instead, the story is about whether the EEOC did enough to conciliate with Mach Mining before suing the company for sex discrimination, and whether that question is even reviewable by the courts. Conciliation is the process by which the EEOC must first attempt an informal resolution with the employer before filing a lawsuit in federal court. Read more »

Sigh of Relief! Arizona’s Restriction on Medication Abortion Remains on Hold

It’s that time of the year – celebrating the holidays with parties, gift-giving, and awkward holiday sweater wearing.

And now women in Arizona have at least one more reason to celebrate – on Monday, the Supreme Court declined to review the Ninth Circuit’s decision blocking a law that would severely restrict abortion access in Arizona. Leaving the Ninth Circuit’s decision intact means women in Arizona will continue to have access to high-quality care that includes medication abortion, which women have been using safely and legally for over 10 years.

Whew! Read more »

When It Comes to Working Women, Young v. UPS May Finally Be the Court’s Chance to Get it Right

Cross-posted from the Alliance for Justice.

In the last couple of years, the Supreme Court has had a lot to say about working women. Unfortunately, none of it has been good.

In the past year and a half alone, the Court has made it harder for women to sue their employers for sexual harassment, limited the rights of home health care workers—who are nearly all women—to organize, and given bosses a religious trump card they can use to quash women’s rights to insurance coverage for birth control. But in the Young v. UPS case, which the Justices heard yesterday, the Court gets another chance to get it right.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s recent record on working women shows just how blind the justices have been to the realities of the workplace. Read more »

Why Peggy Young Should Win By A Landslide

Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Young v. UPS. When Peggy Young, a delivery driver for UPS, found out she was pregnant, her midwife recommended that she not lift more than 20 pounds—but UPS denied her request for light duty, even though it offered accommodations to other drivers with non-pregnancy related limitations.

Many Supreme Court cases are decided by a narrow 5-4 majority. But this particular case should not be one of those squeakers. Peggy Young should win by a landslide. Here’s why: Read more »

Workers Are United in Support of Peggy Young

In September, I attended a meeting of Respect the Bump, a group that formed when OurWalmart members began discussing online the troubles they had working at Walmart during their pregnancies. Women across the country told the same story; when they requested even minor accommodations for medical needs related to their pregnancies, Walmart denied the requests, forced them onto unpaid leave, or fired them. Walmart did this while accommodating workers with disabilities and on the job injuries. I was at the Respect the Bump meeting to conduct know-your-rights training with Elizabeth Gedmark of A Better Balance [PDF]. The women of Respect the Bump were charged with setting the agenda: we agreed to answer any questions they might have.

One of the topics the women were eager to discuss was Young v. UPS [PDF] and how they could help support the plaintiff, Peggy Young. The women were used to standing with other Walmart workers, but they told us they wanted to stand with Peggy Young as well. That’s because her case demonstrates just how widespread the problem of pregnancy discrimination remains. Read more »

Unexpected News from the Supreme Court Won’t Stop Health Care Enrollment

With eight days to go before health plan enrollment begins for 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States announced today that it will hear King v. Burwell in the Court’s next term. This case challenges the availability of premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions for people who sign up for health insurance through the federal Marketplace. Thirty-four states rely on the federal government to manage the health insurance marketplaces for their residents. This means that if the Court were to overturn the King decision from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, millions of women and their families would lose premium subsidies, and therefore access to affordable health insurance. Read more »