The Life Legal Defense Foundation and the Bioethics Defense Fund have filed a joint amicus brief with the Supreme Court in the case of Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell. The community of Little Sisters cares for more than 13,000 poor and elderly in 31 countries around the world.
Life Legal filed the brief on behalf of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute opposing the government’s mandate that requires employers to offer health insurance policies that include contraceptive drug coverage. The mandate applies even to organizations that have a religious objection to artificial contraception. Employers who fail to offer approved coverage are subject to huge penalties. The Little Sisters of the Poor have been threatened with millions of dollars in fines for refusing to purchase contraceptive coverage—yet they have stood firm and will not violate their religious beliefs by making available drugs and devices that cause early abortion and compromise women’s health.
Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the government must prove that regulations impeding the free exercise of religion further a compelling state interest. It continues to argue that forcing employers to provide hormonal contraceptive promotes a significant interest in “preventive healthcare.” But the government ignored recent scientific research demonstrating that hormonal contraceptive drugs and devices pose dangerous, even life-threatening, health risks to women.
Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, a breast oncologist who founded the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, provided the Supreme Court with peer-reviewed studies showing that risks include a 4.2-fold increase in incidences of the most aggressive form of breast cancer among women under age 45 and a staggering 6.4-fold increase in the same type of breast cancer in women under 18. These risks are elevated for African-American women.
Women taking hormonal contraceptives also face a higher risk of heart attacks, cardiovascular disease, cervical cancer, liver cancer, and HIV. In fact, the World Health Organization has classified combined oral contraceptives as Group 1 carcinogens, meaning they have been proven—not merely suspected—to cause cancer.
“The Department of Health and Human Services is attempting to force the Little Sisters to violate their religious beliefs by requiring them to provide coverage for hormonal contraceptives and abortifacients that are known to cause cancer and other diseases,” notes Life Legal Executive Director Alexandra Snyder. “The contraceptive drug mandate is a failure on all counts—it does not protect women and it is an assault on the religious liberties of organizations like Little Sisters of the Poor.”
Read the amicus curiae brief (PDF).