By Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee
The contraceptive coverage requirement in the Affordable Care Act furthers the compelling governmental interests in promoting public health and gender equality and does not substantial burden the exercise of religion.
In 1965, the Supreme Court decided Griswold v. Connecticut, which held that access to contraceptives is a constitutionally protected right and, along with the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, helped secure the right for women to make private reproductive decisions.
In 2014, we should not be taking steps against the tide of progress and liberty, but rather we should be working to balance these freedoms with other long-standing principles of our nation,” said Congresswoman Jackson Lee.“My colleagues and I strongly believe that the contraceptive coverage requirement does not violate the free exercise of religion and will ensure that all Americans receive vital preventive health care services.
The amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court details how the legislative history of the ACA supports the conclusion that the contraceptive coverage requirement of the ACA satisfies the test applicable to a free exercise of religion challenge under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). As the amicus brief notes:
The contraceptive coverage requirement does not . . . compel the Corporations to administer or use the contraceptive methods to which they object, nor does it require them to adhere to, affirm, or abandon a particular belief.
The contraceptive coverage requirement maintains constitutional guarantees of reproductive privacy rights while also maintaining the integrity of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. “Congress should not be in the business of unduly infringing upon women’s health and private reproductive rights,” said Congresswoman Jackson Lee. We have not come this far in establishing women’s equality to turn back the hands of time.