D.C. Circuit Rules on Food Processor and Packing Companies’ Challenge to Contraception Rule

November 1, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Court Of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today issued a decision in a case brought by the fresh produce processor and packing companies Freshway Foods, Freshway Logistics, and their owners, seeking an injunction to prevent compliance with the federal rule requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception. The court reversed an earlier decision denying the injunction.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, as in several others, supporting the Obama administration’s rule requiring contraceptive coverage in employee health insurance plans. The challenge in this case was brought by for-profit companies and their owners, which argued that the rule violates their religious liberty.

“We disagree with the court,” said Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. “Employers are using religion as an excuse to discriminate by denying employees coverage for contraception. Real religious freedom gives everyone the right to make personal decisions, including whether and when to use birth control, based on our own beliefs.”

This case is one of more than 70 across the country currently pending that address the rule requiring contraception coverage. In similar challenges, the Third Circuit and the Sixth Circuit previously ruled that a for-profit company cannot establish that it can exercise religion. The Tenth Circuit, in contrast, held that the rule substantially burdened the religious exercise of Oklahoma-based craft supply chain Hobby Lobby.

Petitions to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court are pending from the earlier three decisions.

For more information on the cases challenging the federal contraceptive coverage mandate go to www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/challenges-federal-contraceptive-coverage-rule.

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