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Attorney General Nessel Joins Coalition in Defending ACA Birth Control Coverage Mandate in Supreme Court

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel recently joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court supporting Pennsylvania in its case defending contraceptive coverage and counseling mandated under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

In the brief filed in Donald Trump et al. v. Pennsylvania, the attorneys general explain that states have an interest in safeguarding the ACA’s birth control coverage requirement, which has benefited more than 62 million women across the country. The coalition argues that access to affordable birth control is critical to the health, well-being and economic security of the states’ residents.

"For millions of women across this country, contraception is a critical part of their health care,” Nessel said. “The Affordable Care Act provides for this preventative care, and employers shouldn’t get to substitute their interests in place of a doctor’s professional judgment. The federal government should look for ways to support and promote women, not create barriers that affect a woman’s health and well-being.”

In 2017 and 2018, the Trump administration issued rules that ignored the ACA’s birth control requirement and allowed employers to deny birth control coverage to their employees based on religious or moral objections.

That action was challenged in the Ninth Circuit and Third Circuit courts by a coalition of attorneys general, which led to injunctions that protect the birth control coverage mandate. However, the federal government, Little Sisters of the Poor, and March for Life filed petitions in the U.S. Supreme Court. The petitions from the Ninth Circuit decision are pending, but the Supreme Court granted those from the Third Circuit, of which Michigan is involved.

In the brief, the attorneys general argue the states have a vested interest in providing women seamless contraceptive coverage. Tens of thousands of women will lose their cost-free contraceptive coverage if employers are allowed to exempt themselves from the ACA requirement. This loss of coverage could result in a reliance on state-funded programs that could increase the states’ costs associated with the provision of reproductive health care, and would likely lead to an increase in unintended pregnancies.

Nessel filed the brief with the attorneys general of California, Massachusetts, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia.