Legal Wrap is a weekly round-up of key legal and reproductive justice news.
It may seem like the battle over contraception access is a new thing, but it’s not. March 22 marks the 41st anniversary of Eisenstadt v. Baird, a Supreme Court decision that established that individual privacy rights include the right of single persons to possess contraception. As Bridgette Dunlap explained in a recent piece for RH Reality Check, as recently as 1972 a person could be jailed for giving contraception to an unmarried person. As we’re witnessing today with the current assaults on contraception access, there are many individuals in this country fighting to undo the legacy of Baird.
The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) submitted amicus briefs in two cases that challenge the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage benefit: Autocam v. Sebelius in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. v. Sebelius in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. At the heart of both cases is whether for-profit companies must comply with the benefit, which ensures that employees have access to insurance coverage for birth control without out-of-pocket costs.
In Michigan, another for-profit business has challenged the contraception mandate. Last week, organic and natural foods company Eden Foods and its chairman, president, and sole shareholder Michael Potter filed Eden Foods, Inc. v. Sebelius. Like many of the other for-profit companies challenging the contraception benefit, Eden Foods is represented by conservative activist group the Thomas More Law Center.
The battle to renew the Violence Against Women Act did not include a focus on making emergency contraception (EC) widely available to rape survivors. Sadly, it appears that oversight was the result of women’s rights advocates failing to make EC availability a priority.
Imani Gandi asks the important question of whether the National Mortgage Settlement is failing women and communities color in this must read.
In Kentucky, child-care agencies that contract with the state will now have to ensure that children are not pressured into participating in religious worship or instruction, thanks to a settlement in a case that accused the state agency of looking the other way as private companies discriminated against students on the basis of religion.
Meanwhile, in Tennessee, a federal court permanently blocked a state law that was designed to defund Planned Parenthood. The law cut off grants to the health-care provider for HIV-prevention work because some clinics also provide abortion care.
Silicon Valley may seem like a universe away from Steubenville, Ohio, but as Natasha Chart shows, rape culture really is everywhere.
Speaking of Steubenville, I offered some thoughts on how the history of the juvenile justice system worked to produce a guilty verdict in the trial while also doing little to address the victim-blaming and -shaming that encompassed the legal defense in the case.
This week the Supreme Court will hears arguments in two landmark cases that consider the issue of marriage equality and to what extent states or the federal government can discriminate and favor opposite-sex marriage over same-sex marriage. RH Reality Check writers will be covering the arguments and have previewed some of the issues here, but in the meantime, check out this interesting read in The Economist on the similarities between the legal battle for marriage equality and the fight for abortion rights.