CA: Supreme Court Rules Catholic Group Must Cover Birth Control
California's Supreme Court on Monday ruled that, in accordance with state law, Catholic Charities must cover contraceptives as part of its employee prescription drug coverage. This is "a huge victory for working women in California," said state Attorney General Bill Lockyer, according to the Los Angeles Times. "It is plainly discriminatory for health and disability insurance plans to not cover contraceptives that were approved by the FDA almost 40 years ago, yet offer coverage for Viagra as soon as that drug was approved by the FDA," Lockyer continued.
California is one of 20 states that require employers offering prescription drug coverage in their health plans to also cover prescription contraceptives. The Catholic Charities case is widely seen as a test case for other states facing challenges to contraceptive equity laws from religion-based non-profit organizations and hospitals claiming exemption.
The lone dissenter on the California Supreme Court was Justice Janice Rogers Brown. Brown has been nominated by President Bush to fill a vacancy on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. With the urging of a broad coalition of progressive groups, including the Feminist Majority, Senate Democrats are filibustering her nomination for her poor record on women's rights and civil rights.
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Media Resources: LA Times 2/2/04; NY Times 2/2/04; Feminist Majority