Union Pacific Case on Contraceptive Coverage Could Change the Rules Nationwide

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Last week the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case against Union Pacific Railroad, which is being sued for failing to cover contraceptives in its health plans. In July 2005 a U.S. District court ruled in favor of the two women who filed the suit along with Planned Parenthood. The original ruling stating that Union Pacific, which employs about 49,000 workers nationwide, including 1,300 (that’s 2.6% for those of you keeping track), illegally discriminates against female employees by not providing contraceptive coverage in its health plans.

The lower court went further, saying that Union Pacific’s policy is in violation of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discrimination based on gender or pregnancy. The policy was deemed discriminatory because it covered many preventive health medications — including drugs for erectile dysfunction — but not contraception.

The company has argued that it did not need to provide contraceptive coverage “because fertility is ‘normal,'” and, therefore, birth control is not “medically necessary.” Ah, and Viagra is sooo necessary.

Judge Pasco Bowman, who sits on the appeals court panel said Thursday that if the ruling holds it could mandate all companies to cover birth control in their plans.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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