Denver teacher takes on President Trump over birth control mandate reversal

A lawsuit has been filed in federal court
Posted at 12:13 PM, Oct 14, 2017

DENVER -- A 30-year-old Denver math teacher is taking on President Donald Trump over his decision to relax the contraceptive mandate under Obamacare.

"The Trump Administration is giving employers a unilateral license to discriminate against women, by denying them access to birth control at no additional charge, as required by the Women's Health Amendment to the Affordable Care Act," said Alan Kennedy-Shaffer, Jessica Campbell's attorney.

Kennedy-Shaffer told Denver7 that Congress explicitly said women have the right to birth control through their employer-based health insurance plan.

"The Trump Administration is trying to take that away through the regulatory process, in violation of the laws passed by Congress, and the Constitution of the United States," he said.

Interim Final Rules

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, states that "On October 6, 2017, the Treasury, Labor and HHS Departments issued two Interim Final Rules that allow any entity, including for-profit companies, non-profits, universities and other, not just churches or closely held corporations, to invoke religious or moral beliefs to unilaterally block employees from receiving contraception insurance coverage they would otherwise be entitled to under the ACA."

"The IFRs allow employers to dictate whether or not their (female) employees can access contraception from their insurance provider, without cost sharing," Kennedy Shaffer said in the complaint, adding that the new rules could affect millions of people.

"The IFRs privilege religious beliefs over secular beliefs as a basis for obtaining exemptions under the ACA," Kennedy-Shaffer said. "By promulgating the IFRs, Defendants have violated the Establishment Clause because the IFRs promote certain religious views by accommodating any employer's religious objections to contraception."

In addition to the President, the lawsuit names Eric Hargan, the Acting Secretary of Health & Human Services; R. Alexander Acosta, Secretary of Labor; and Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury as Defendants.

Private school teacher

Campbell, who teaches at Colorado Academy, declined an interview request.

Kennedy-Shaffer said his client uses birth control to avoid unintended pregnancy and for medically necessary health and safety reasons, including the prevention of ovarian cysts.

The plaintiff's co-counsel, former State Representative Joel Judd, said, "What we're doing here doesn't have a darn thing to do with freedom of religion. It's all about freedom to discriminate against someone."

When asked what it was like suing the President, Judd replied, "Law doesn't really care who you are.  Law cares about what the law is and what the facts are.  You've seen lots of statues about Justice being blind. I've been doing this for 40 years and I think that's true."

Judd said a Judge has been assigned to the case, but no court hearing has been scheduled.

He said he doesn't know when the first hearing will be.

"It's entirely possible," he said, "that cooler heads will prevail in Washington, D.C. and they'll see that they don't really need to discriminate against the women of America."

Second suit against President

This isn't the first time Kennedy-Shaffer has sued President Trump.

In January, he filed a lawsuit over the President's decision to ban Muslims from traveling to the U.S.

As in that lawsuit, he hopes a Judge will issue an injunction, prohibiting the new rules from being enforced.

Attorneys General in California, Washington, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts have also filed suits over the new rules.