By: - April 14, 2020 9:16 am

U.S. Supreme Court | Susan J. Demas

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

“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.”

Dana Nessel
Attorney General Dana Nessel at the Michigan Elder Abuse Task Force meeting in Flint, July 26, 2019 | Andrew Roth

In the brief filed in Donald Trump et al. v. Pennsylvania, the attorneys general argue states have an interest in safeguarding the ACA’s birth control coverage requirement, which they say 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.

In 2017 and 2018, the President 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.

“Rather than honor Congress’s commitment to provide women with full and equal healthcare, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury … have issued two Final Rules that create blanket exemptions to the ACA’s contraceptive mandate for virtually any employer with religious or moral objections to contraception,” the AGs write.

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, per the AG office. 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.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 21-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 4,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 70 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.