(PRESS RELEASE) More than 40 Catholic groups filed 12 separate lawsuits across the country yesterday challenging the Affordable Care Act's copay-free birth control benefit for all women—a move the Center for Reproductive Rights has called a clear political stunt based on precarious legal grounds.
Because all of the dozen recently-filed lawsuits—as well as eight prior cases filed against the Obama Administration—raise issues currently pending in the ongoing and unresolved federal rulemaking process on the scope of the Administration's accommodation for religiously objecting employers, they are premature.
Further, under the proposed accommodation announced by the Administration in March, religiously-objecting organizations would be able to opt out of paying for the contraception coverage in their employees\' insurance plans—a clear solution that would be available to each of the plaintiffs in the 20 new lawsuits.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
"This is the most cynical kind of political theater and nothing more. Rather than working constructively with the Administration and allowing the rulemaking process to reach a resolution, these groups have chosen to grab headlines with a political stunt that will only burden the courts with untimely claims.
"The Obama Administration should be given room to craft a fair and workable balance that will preserve copay-free access to contraception as a critical preventive service for millions of American women—not blitzed by dozens of bad-faith lawsuits that will only waste time and public resources.
"The benefits of broadened access to affordable contraception are significant in a country where half of all pregnancies are unintended. Yet the backward-thinking opponents of this vital benefit continue to work overtime to reverse the biggest step forward for women's health in decades."
Earlier this year, the Center for Reproductive Rights issued a comprehensive reply to the recent contraception controversy, which takes a closer look at the arguments by opponents of the contraception requirement, unpacks the legal issues and public health debate, and responds to many erroneous assertions by opponents of the measure.