Center for Reproductive Rights and National Women's Law Center v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The Center for Reproductive Rights and the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) filed suit against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for refusing to release records related to a new division within the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) dedicated exclusively to enforcing refusal of care laws. 

HHS has refused to release information about how this new division operates, how it is allocating resources, whether and how its decision making is influenced by outside groups, and why it was needed in the first place. The Center and NWLC made the original Freedom of Information Act request in January, which HHS has effectively ignored.

Plaintiff(s): The Center for Reproductive Rights, the National Women's Law Center 

Attorney(s): Covington & Burling LLP 


In January 2018, the Trump administration announced that a new division of the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) would be created within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), focusing solely on complaints alleging a violation of religious and moral refusal laws. The Center, in partnership with National Women's Law Center (NWLC), submitted two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Department, requesting records relevant to creation of the new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within OCR.  Despite a statutory requirement to respond to all FOIA requests within 20 business days, HHS did not reply.  After numerous unsuccessful inquiries regarding the status of our request, we filed a challenge in federal court to compel HHS to comply with FOIA on July 19, 2018.

The Center