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Federal appeals court: nonreligious anti-abortion groups not exempt from contraceptive mandate
Federal appeals court: nonreligious anti-abortion groups not exempt from contraceptive mandate

[JURIST] Nonreligious anti-abortion organizations must follow the Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraceptive mandate, ruled [opinion, PDF] a split panel in the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] on Friday. The court rejected Real Alternative Inc.’s [advocacy website] argument that its religious beliefs should create a religious exemption and also that there was a substantial burden on the organization to follow the mandate.

The fact that the Government may require insurers to offer coverage for expenditures for certain services that some might find objectionable on religious grounds cannot form the basis of requiring the Government to adjust its programs on behalf of all employees. The categories of services that could offend religious beliefs is wide-ranging and, as discussed infra, denying reimbursement for such services to all on the basis of the religious objections of some would be neither desirable nor administrable.

The concurring and dissenting opinion agreed with the majority in its substantial burden analysis but did not come to the same conclusion in its religious beliefs analysis.

Female access to equitable health care services has been a contentious and evolving battle throughout the world, especially with regards to reproductive and sexual health. Earlier this month the Chilean Congress passed a bill [JURIST report] that would legalize pre-viability abortions, abortions in instances when the pregnancy resulted from a rape, and when the pregnancy poses a threat to the mother’s health. In June the UN Human Rights Committee found [JURIST report] that Ireland must remedy harm done to a woman in 2010 after denying her an abortion. Under threat of President Trump’s vow to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Delaware legislature approved a bill [JURIST report] that guarantees access to abortion. Last June the UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law called on [JURIST report] the world’s governments to take quick, effective steps towards ensuring women are granted equal rights to health. Earlier that month independent experts for the UN found [JURIST report] a woman faced “inhumane treatment” while seeking an abortion procedure in Northern Ireland.