Federal laws that let employers strip birth-control coverage from workers violate the First Amendment ban on government support of religion and are sexist and so violate the the Fifth Amendment right to equal protection, state Attorney General Maura Healey argues in a suit filed yesterday.
In her suit, filed in US District Court in Boston on behalf of the Commonwealth, Healey also argues the Trump administration broke the law by imposing the regulations without allowing for any public comment or administrative review.
At the heart of Healey's argument against the "interirm final rules" (IFRs) are the fact that the restrictions are based on religion and only target women.
The Departments have acted to promote employers' religious beliefs over the autonomy of women—and other employees - who do not share those beliefs.
Through the IFRs, the Departments have empowered employers to impose their religious beliefs on their employees and their employees' dependents. The expanded exemptions grant employers veto power over whether employees receive separate contraceptive coverage through the accommodation process. Employers have no legitimate interest injecting their religious beliefs into this independent method for providing contraceptive coverage.
The IFRs accommodate employers' religious beliefs by imposing constitutionally impermissible harm on employees. In addition to effectively depriving some women of needed care entirely, the expanded exemptions will impose significant financial, logistical, informational, and administrative burdens on the thousands of employees who lose contraceptive coverage under its terms.
Healey then turns to the Fifth Amendment's right to equal protection:
The Departments have violated the equal protection guarantee implicit in the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The expanded exemptions created by the IFRs impermissibly target women for adverse treatment.
The IFRs insert a gender-based classification into the ACA's preventive care provisions by selectively authorizing employers to use their religious beliefs to deny critical health insurance coverage for women.
The expanded exemptions undermine protections inserted into the ACA by Congress for the explicit purpose of guaranteeing women equal access to preventive medicine.
The expanded exemptions will result in women losing access to medically necessary contraceptive care and services while leaving coverage for men unchanged.
The expanded exemptions do not serve an important governmental objective sufficient to justify the gender-based discrimination.
Healey is seeking both a temporary and permanent injunction against the rules.