On Friday, October 12, 2012, Life Legal Defense Foundation, along with Bioethics Defense Fund, filed their second friend of the court brief in support of a case challenging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring employers to provide contraceptives and sterilization “services” to their employees, despite conscientious objections to doing so. The brief was filed on behalf of the organization “Women Speak for Themselves,” in the case of Wheaton College and Belmont Abbey College v. Sebelius, et al., which is on appeal from the United States District Court, District of Columbia. The District Court rejected the plaintiff’s arguments that the Mandate violated their First Amendment Freedom of Religion by requiring them to violate their sincerely held beliefs in the sanctity of human life. This appeal followed.
The HHS mandate purports to promote health but in promulgating the rule, the government ignored substantial evidence that hormonal contraceptives pose serious health risks to women. “Before forcing employers to violate their religious convictions and pay for drugs which end human lives, the Government has to show the Mandate furthers a compelling public interest. Our brief demonstrates how far the Government is from having met its burden of proof,” states Catherine Short, LLDF’s Legal Director.
The brief points to substantial evidence that hormonal contraceptives, rather than promoting the health and well-being of women and children, pose serious health risks. Some of the health hazards listed for this type of drug include higher risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular complications, greater susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections, higher risk of breast cancer, cervical cancer, and liver tumors.