NASW promotes health care access in Supreme Court case

By Paul R. Pace, News staff

NASW members and other social workers were encouraged to appear outside the U.S. Supreme Court on March 23, where the justices began oral arguments in the case Zubik v. Burwell.

People gathered outside the U.S Supreme Court on March 23 as the justices heard oral arguments in the case Zubik v. Burwell.

NASW joined an amicus brief in the case to support the right of all employees to access health care without discrimination, even while accommodating their employer’s religious beliefs.

The high court reviewed challenges to the “accommodation” of the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit. At stake is whether employers can use their religious beliefs to make it more difficult for women to access essential birth-control coverage, and, by extension, potentially discriminate against other groups, according to the NASW advocacy blog,

It notes that NASW promotes self-determination in the case and that the association supports the need to protect an individual’s right to make choices for their own reproductive health.

“It was important for social workers to be at the Supreme Court, because we support self-determination,” said NASW Senior Field Organizer Dina Kastner, who attended the event with Rita Webb, senior practice associate at NASW.

NASW and other human rights and women’s organizations also participated in a Twitter “storm” campaign on March 23, using the hashtag #handsoffmybc.

Greg Wright, public relations manager at NASW, sent out more than a dozen tweets for the online effort.

More than 800 original tweets — including those from NASW — were sent out for the campaign, which reached an estimated 1.4 million people, Wright said.

In other NASW advocacy news, the association’s advocacy blog announced that NASW, through its Legal Defense Fund, has joined five anchor organizations to sign on to an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of overturning a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Texas v. United States that blocked President Obama’s executive order to expand immigration deferred action programs.

NASW is proud to be an anchor organization for the brief and is honored to be in the company of more than 70 other like-minded organizations, the blog notes.

The brief asks the high court to uphold the president’s executive order, because it will allow Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA+).

These programs have the potential to provide temporary deportation relief and work authorization that could impact nearly 3.3 million parents of minor children. Most of the children are already U.S. citizens, the blog states.

The brief takes the position that implementation of DAPA could significantly improve the lives of these vulnerable children.

It will also enable parents to better provide financially for their children and improve the educational outcomes, self-esteem and emotional health of DAPA children, the blog states.

The Supreme Court justices are expected to announce decisions on these two cases in June.

From the May 2016 NASW News.


  1. Update: The Supreme Court did rule in favor of the Little Sisters of the Poor, who requested religious exemption from the birth control coverage requirement for their Order and the nursing homes they operate. These nursing homes care for mostly indigent persons who, otherwise, would have no where else to go for their care. This is the love that Social Work advocates for.

  2. The Supreme Court has refused to rule on the seven consolodated cases in question here. The Court referred to the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (signed by President Clinton) that the Court overturned, citing the issue belonged to the states. Here again, the Court is turning these cases back to their respective states.

    It’s interesting to note that health insurers currently cannot operate across state lines and are restricted to their own states…..the religious freedom to choose not to purchase birth control benefits for one’s employees will now be determined by the states.

  3. So NASW posted this article almost two months after the protest and slid in its positions on two additional federal issues that have been posted on the NASW Blog. Really? Again?

    Issue 1: Government should not be regulating one’s personal beliefs. If I believe birth control to be a form of murder (as some faiths do, including the Little Sisters of the Poor), then it should be my right to refuse to pay for third party coverage for birth control that my employees can otherwise pay for themselves (their right to self-determination). As a note, the Little Sisters of the Poor have taken vows of celibacy…as I understand it, celebacy is a form of birth control with no fiscal cost.

    Issue 2: The case before the Supreme Court is the legality of the President’s Executive Action. The humanistic aspect of DAPA is not in question here. NASW should identify and promote a means of DAPA implementation that is legally and fiscally viable.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.