Another Contraceptives Mandate Case

Following up on Chris Robertson’s and Kevin Outterson’s posts below (here and here), I just wanted to draw your attention to another federal district court opinion on the contraceptives coverage mandate.  This one is from Nov. 19 and involves the owners of Hobby Lobby.  The court denied their motion for a preliminary injunction on the following grounds:

Plaintiffs have not demonstrated a probability of success on their First Amendment claims. Hobby Lobby and Mardel, secular, for-profit corporations, do not have free exercise rights. The Greens [the individual owners] do have such rights, but are unlikely to prevail as to their constitutional claims because the preventive care coverage regulations they challenge are neutral laws of general applicability which are rationally related to a legitimate governmental objective.

Plaintiffs also have failed to demonstrate a probability of success on their Religious Freedom Restoration Act claims. Hobby Lobby and Mardel are not “persons” for purposes of the RFRA and the Greens have not established that compliance with the preventive care coverage regulations would “substantially burden” their religious exercise, as the term “substantially burdened” is used in the statute. Therefore, plaintiffs have not met their prima facie burden under RFRA and have not demonstrated a probability of success as to their RFRA claims.

There are tens of cases challenging the contraceptives mandate pending at the moment, and several have already been dismissed on procedural grounds.  But my current count of the substantive cases is 3 preliminary injunctions granted (Newland, Weingartz Supply, and Tyndale House Publishers), 1 denied (Hobby Lobby), and 1 case holding outright that the mandate violates neither the First Amendment nor RFRA (O’Brien).  Have I missed any?

Connecting National Policy and Local Experience to Reverse Diabetes Disparities

[Ed. Note: Today we're happy to provide you with a guest post by Noreen M. Clark, PhD, Myron E. Wegman Distinguished University Professor, Director, Center for Managing Chronic Disease, University of Michigan]

Health care disparities are perhaps among the most vexing problems in medicine, public health and health policy.  Despite broad public- and private-sector attention to the problem, disparities continue to grow.  At the Alliance to Reduce Disparities in Diabetes, a national program launched and supported by The Merck Company Foundation, we are working to reverse this trend and are finding that it’s critical that national policies aimed at reversing diabetes disparities consider the on-the-ground experience of those working to improve health outcomes for those most affected.

Too often national policies are developed that work well in theory but are divorced from the reality of what’s happening at the community level.  This makes enacting changes to reduce disparities in diabetes difficult, but the work of those on-the-ground is shedding light on ways to overcome the systemic and structural barriers to providing effective diabetes care to those most in need.  For example, the Alliance’s five health care delivery sites have implemented multifaceted evidence-based approaches designed to eliminate gaps produced by inequity and lack of targeted attention to those adults and their families who are most likely to be severely burdened by diabetes.

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Upcoming Event, 11/29/12 – Nourishing a Legal Career in the Life Sciences

Thursday, November 29, 2012

3:00-4:00pm (reception to follow)

Milstein Conference Rooms, Wasserstein Building, Harvard Law School

Nourishing a Legal Career in the Life Sciences

Please join us for a career discussion with Amy Schulman, Lecturer on Law at HLS, Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Pfizer, Inc., President and General Manager of Pfizer Nutrition, and Mark Nance, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Mylan, Inc. The discussion will be moderated by Professor David Wilkins.

Co-sponsored by the Program on the Legal Profession, the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics, and the HLS Office of Career Services.

Upcoming Event – Stem Cell Therapy and Medical Tourism: Of Promise and Peril? 11/28/12

Wednesday, September 28, 2012
3-4:30 pm (reception to follow)
Austin 111, Harvard Law School

Experimental breakthroughs within the field of regenerative medicine are reported in the media on a daily basis worldwide.  Despite this progress, the overwhelming majority of clinical problems for which stem cell-based intervention offers hope remain therapeutically unproven, and a major gap exists between current public understanding and the availability of innovative therapies.

This event will feature a distinguished panel of speakers addressing various aspects of medical tourism for stem cell therapy.  Presentations will cover the state of stem cell science, historical context and comparisons related to earlier instances of medical utopianism, empirical data on the nature of stem cell tourism, how to address patient hopes in the realm of unproven therapies, and special issues related to stem cell tourism by parents for their children.

The event will be moderated by M. William Lensch, Harvard Stem Cell Institute.  Speakers and topics include:

  • Brock Reeve, Harvard Stem Cell Institute
    Welcome and Introductions 
  • George Q. Daley, Harvard Stem Cell Institute
    Stem Cells: The Gap Between Current Science and Clinical Implementation 
  • Jill Lepore, Harvard University
    Resurrection, Past and Present 
  • Tim Caulfield, University of Alberta
    Stem Cell Tourism: Is the Problem Getting Worse? 
  • Insoo Hyun, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
    Therapeutic Hope and Its Challenges for Rational Ethical Discourse 
  • I. Glenn Cohen, Petrie-Flom Center, Harvard Law School
    Stem Cell Tourism, Children, Abuse, and Reporting

There will be substantial time set aside for audience Q&A, and the conversation will continue after the event at an open reception.

This event is free and open to the public.  Co-sponsored by the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.