Legal Wrap: A Win in Arizona and the Case for Insurance Coverage for Abortion


Good news for the women of Arizona! U.S. District Judge Neil Wake overturned a 2012 state law that stripped Planned Parenthood of funding and threatened access to affordable health care for thousands of Arizonans, ruling that the law’s ban on Medicaid funding for non-abortion health care provided by doctors and clinics that also perform abortions violates federal Medicaid law. Meanwhile, as Tara Sweeney and Kelly Baden argue, the fight over reproductive health care needs to go on the offensive, and it starts with restoring insurance coverage for safe abortion care. To further illustrate the point made by Sweeny and Baden that funding programs are at the heart of the battle over abortion access, Robin Marty offers this analysis of how state legislatures threaten access through tax-payer funding of non-medical crisis pregnancy centers. Imani Gandy takes on the pernicious and disingenuous arguments used by anti-choice extremists to accuse pro-choice groups and abortion clinics of targeting minorities and to push for bans on race and sex selective abortions in this must read. North Dakota has become a hotbed of anti-choice activity as of late, but thanks to this opinion issued by the state’s attorney general, a much-needed sex education program for teens in the Fargo, North Dakota region can move forward. A law designed to help catch serial rapists by allowing law enforcement to take DNA samples of people arrested but not yet convicted of some crimes could have unintended consequences for pregnant women. Immigration reform is an important part of President Obama’s agenda for his second term. Sheila Bapat reports on how domestic workers are making sure their voices are heard as the administration and lawmakers start to put together a bill. It has been relatively quiet this week in the battle over the birth control benefit in Obamacare. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied the appeal of Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., a for-profit businesses owned by a family of Mennonites who are trying to avoid the coverage requirements. Meanwhile Bridgette Dunlap has this great piece on the history of Catholic universities and birth control and how, not so long ago, the very same institutions arguing to courts across the country that providing insurance coverage for birth control violates their religious beliefs used to lobby heavily for family planning and contraception. Huh. According to a recent California Supreme Court decision, employers have some more wiggle-room when trying to defeat claims of discrimination. Thanks to the opinion issued last week, once an employee who is claiming discrimination demonstrates that a discriminatory reason substantially motivated an adverse employment decision, the employer is entitled to show that a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason would have led it to make the same decision. If the employer is able to demonstrate that, notwithstanding the evidence of discrimination, it was also motivated by a non-discriminatory reason, the employee is no longer entitled to monetary damages, back pay or reinstatement, but may still be entitled to an injunction or an award of attorneys’ fees and costs. This is a huge set-back for employees and workplace equality advocates. Oftentimes discriminatory employment decisions are couched in what the law calls “pretext” explanations or evidence of something other than unlawful discrimination, such as claims of poor performance or employee behavioral problems. The law recognized that employers have gotten more sophisticated in communicating bias and had allowed employees to recover money damages should they prove indirect discrimination, a remedy that was designed to help motivate employers to address discrimination in their workplaces. In California, that is no longer the case.

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