Federal Judge Dismisses Contraception Coverage Lawsuit
A federal judge in Nebraska dismissed a federal lawsuit yesterday that sought to block part of the new healthcare policy that will require insurance plans to cover birth control with no co-pays. The lawsuit, filed by attorneys general in seven states - Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Michigan, Florida, South Carolina, and Texas, claimed that the contraception mandate violates First Amendment rights guaranteeing religious freedom.
U.S. District Judge Warren Urbom sided with the U.S. Justice Department in dismissing the case, saying that the states lacked legal grounds to sue over this provision and face no immediate harm from the having to offer the coverage.
Urbom stated, "Although the rule that lies at the heart of the plaintiffs' complaint establishes a definitive, final definition of 'religious employer,' the ACA's contraceptive coverage requirements are not being enforced against non-exempted religious organizations, and the rule is currently undergoing a process of amendment to accommodate these organizations."
The federal government has provided an exemption for religious institutions from birth control coverage under their insurance policies by requiring the insurance companies to cover the cost. It has also delayed enforcement of the provision until August 2013, though for non-religious institutions it will go into effect next month.
Media Resources: Reuters 7/17/12; Ms. Magazine 7/17/12; Huffington Post 7/17/12; Journal Star 7/17/12
12/9/2013 Mixed Results for Afghanistan's Anti-Violence Against Women Law - The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released their annual report on violence against women in Afghanistan yesterday, revealing mixed results of the country's Elimination of Violence against Women Law.
"A Way to Go: An Update on Implementation of the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women in Afghanistan [PDF]," found that there was a 28 percent increase in reports of violence against women from 2012 to 2013 , but only 17 percent of those were prosecuted under EVAW - a small 2 percent increase from last year.
The law, which was issued by the executive decree of President Hamid Karzai in 2009, criminalizes 22 acts of violence against women and specifies punishment for perpetrators. . . .