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IU Maurer professor argues ACA contraception mandate benefits women’s health and economic stability

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Another battle over the Affordable Care Act goes before the Supreme Court of the United States today as the justices hear two cases challenging the contraception coverage mandate in the health care law.

Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 13-354, and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, 13-356, raise the issue of whether the First Amendment or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act allow a for-profit corporation to deny its employees health insurance for contraceptives based on the owners’ religious opposition to birth control. The ACA includes an exemption for some religious organizations but not for for-profit businesses.

Indiana University Maurer School of Law professor Dawn Johnsen co-authored an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Guttmacher Institute and Sara Rosenbaum, professor at George Washington University, in support of the contraception coverage guarantee. The brief details the harm to women, their families and the public health that would result if the court were to rule in favor of the corporations and argues that the proper interpretation of the law avoids these harms.

The cases before the Supreme Court are not the first challenges to the contraception provision. The University of Notre Dame tried to get a preliminary injunction against the birth control mandate but failed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division and on appeal before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In her brief, Johnsen and her co-author, former acting solicitor general Walter Dellinger, argue that allowing for-profit employers to deny women access to contraceptive coverage will force many women to use birth control methods that are not optimal for their health and are far less effective.

They further argue that the empirical data shows if the court allows employers’ religious objections to limit women’s health care decisions in this way, women not only will suffer economic harm and an affront to their own religious and moral views, they also will experience greater numbers of unintended pregnancies, some of which will end in abortions.
 

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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