11.21.03 - The Center for Reproductive Rights participated as an amicus (friend-of-the-court) in this case, in order to support the validity of New York's Women's Health and Wellness Act (WHWA), which requires employee health plans that cover prescription drugs to include coverage of FDA-approved contraceptive drugs  and devices (such as oral contraceptives, diaphragms, Norplant, Depo Provera, cervical caps, and IUDs). The law provides an exception to this "contraceptive equity" requirement for health plans offered by "religious employers," as defined in the Act.
Filing date: 12/30/2002
State: New York
Center Attorney(s): Bebe J. Anderson
Summary: In 2002, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany, along with seven other social service organizations affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, and two others associated with the Baptist Bible Fellowship International, brought a state court challenge to the WHWA based on the fact that these entities were not exempt from the "contraceptive equity" requirement because they did not fall within the law's definition of "religious employer." Catholic Charities claimed that the "religious employer" exemption was too narrow and that the WHWA violated the organizations' religious beliefs and rights.
CRR, along with a number of other organizations, submitted an amicus brief to both the intermediate and highest appellate courts, arguing that the WHWA is constitutional and that it properly balances the relevant interests and rights.
New York's trial court (the New York supreme court), intermediate appellate court (the Appellate Division), and highest appellate court (the Court of Appeals) all upheld the constitutionality of the WHWA and its "religious employer" exemption.