LAF Express — December 2013

Supreme Court Refuses to Stay Texas Law Limiting Access to Reproductive Health Care

On November 19, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to delay implementation of a Texas law that imposes severe restrictions on abortion providers. Among other provisions, the law requires any doctor who performs abortions to have professional privileges to admit patients to a local hospital. Pro-choice groups challenged the law on behalf of several women’s health care providers in Texas because it would severely limit the number of doctors who can perform abortions in the state and does not enhance patient safety. The district court declared the provision unconstitutional, and the state appealed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit immediately suspended the district court’s ruling, allowing the law to go into effect even before deciding whether it was constitutional. Pro-choice advocates asked the Supreme Court to block the law while the appeal is pending, but the Supreme Court refused. As a result, the law will be in effect at least until the appeals court issues a final ruling sometime next year. Pro-choice groups estimate that the law will reduce the number of abortion providers in the state by a third.

AAUW is very disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision. We will keep you updated as the case continues.

Supreme Court Will Hear Contraceptive Coverage Cases

The U.S.  Supreme Court recently agreed to hear appeals in two lawsuits filed by business owners who challenged the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that all employers include contraceptive care in their health plans. Both cases,  Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, were filed by for-profit business owners who claim that because they are religiously opposed to the use of contraception, they should not be required to offer employee insurance plans that cover contraceptive care. Although the cases concern different legal theories — the Hobby Lobby plaintiffs challenged the requirement based only on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, while the Conestoga Wood plaintiffs rely additionally on the First Amendment’s protection for religious freedom ― the court will hear both cases at the same time.

AAUW believes that for-profit businesses should not be exempt from providing health care coverage to their women employees, and we have signed on to amicus briefs in support of the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive-care requirement. Look for more information once the court issues a ruling next year.

Calling All Title IX Champions!

We know AAUW members do vital work to ensure that students’ rights under Title IX are enforced. You investigate Title IX compliance, assemble lists of Title IX coordinators in schools, promote better sexual assault policies, and help teach students, parents, educators, coaches, and administrators about Title IX’s requirements. The U.S. Department of Education simply cannot enforce Title IX alone, and you are helping shrink the enforcement gap.

Beginning early in the new year, we will launch an effort to recognize, celebrate, and publicize your wonderful contributions! In January, we’ll start asking you to nominate AAUW members and branches as Title IX Champions. Whether your branch has mounted an awareness campaign, made a commitment to attend women’s athletic events, used our Know the Score program to investigate Title IX compliance, or found another creative way to promote Title IX in your community, be ready to share the successes of the AAUW Title IX Champions you know!

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