Legal Wrap: Another EC Win, and State Legal Challenges Add Up


Legal Wrap is a round-up of key legal and reproductive justice news

The fight over emergency contraception took a significant step forward last week as the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Obama administration to make some forms of emergency contraception (EC) available immediately for over-the-counter sale. The ruling denied in part the administration’s request that availability be delayed while it appeals a lower court ruling that found the administration improperly played politics when it first decided, contrary to Food and Drug Administration recommendations, to place age and point-of-sale restrictions on EC. (UPDATE: The Obama administration announced Monday night that it will comply with the court order to make emergency contraception available over-the-counter without age restrictions.)

Last week marked the 48th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, the landmark Supreme Court decision that decriminalized the use of contraception for married couples. The decision has become known as one of the most important cases in personal privacy rights and in the fight for family planning access, but it’s final legacy could be in supporting the institution of marriage.

On that note, according to a new poll by the New York Times/CBS, just 20 percent of American adults believe the Supreme Court decides its cases “based on legal analysis” and without regard to the personal or political views of the sitting justices.

After a protracted legal battle, nonsurgical abortion access will return to Planned Parenthood clinics in Wisconsin.

A federal judge in Mississippi set an August 15 status conference in the fight to keep open the state’s only abortion clinic. The state passed a targeted regulation of abortion provider (TRAP) law the clinic has admitted it cannot comply with, and the judge has been trying to find a compromise between the parties, to no avail so far.

Anti-abortion advocates in Minnesota have appealed a ruling dismissing a lawsuit challenging the use of state funds to provide some abortion care to women in the state.

Residents of North Dakota are finding out just how expensive it is defending blatantly unconstitutional abortion restrictions. The state has allocated $400,000 to defend the laws, but if these early legal bills are any indication, that’s not going to be nearly enough money.

A Texas case went viral last week after a Gawker headline proclaimed “Texas Says It’s OK To Shoot an Escort if She Won’t Have Sex With You.” But, as Bridgette Dunlap explains, that’s not what the Texas law says, and it’s not what the jury decided either.

The National Women’s Law Center filed sex discrimination complaints against five employers that exclude pregnancy coverage from the health insurance benefits provided to their employees’ dependent children. These complaints, believed to be the first to challenge dependent pregnancy coverage exclusions under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), were filed with the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Section 1557 of the ACA prohibits discrimination in health-care programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sex stereotypes, gender identity, age, or disability. Health insurers, hospitals, the health insurance exchanges, and any other entities that receive federal funds are covered by this law, and this is the first time that federal law has prohibited sex discrimination in health care.

Do religious restrictions in treating reproductive health issues force doctors to commit malpractice in treating pregnant patients?

Finally, let’s end on some good news. Austin, Texas, looks like it will be the first city with paid parental leave for city employees, while in New York a new bill would allow minors to consent to getting the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine without parental consent.

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Follow Jessica Mason Pieklo on twitter: @hegemommy