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Amicus Brief in Little Sisters Cites Government's Failure to Consider Serious Health Risks to Women
Contact: Alexandra Snyder, 202-717-7371; Dorinda Bordlee, 504-231-7234

NAPA, Calif., Jan. 8, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Life Legal Defense Foundation and the Bioethics Defense Fund filed a joint amicus brief today in the case of Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell on behalf of The Breast Cancer Prevention Institute opposing the coercive HHS Mandate issued pursuant to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The brief was filed in support of several non-profit organizations who have been threatened with crippling fines for refusing to purchase health insurance that includes contraceptive and abortifacient drug coverage, including Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic organization that serves more than 13,000 poor and elderly in 31 countries worldwide.

Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the government must show that regulations impeding the free exercise of religion must further a compelling state interest. The government has argued that forcing employers to provide hormonal contraceptive promotes a compelling interest in "women's preventive healthcare." But the amicus brief surveys a large body of scientific research that was ignored by the government 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. Moreover, women taking hormonal contraceptives 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 government 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 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."

The brief points out that health risks are not limited to oral contraceptives. The prestigious Heffron Study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, found that injectable contraceptives, including the widely-used Depo-Provera shot, may double the risk that women will become infected with HIV.

It is a violation of religious liberty for religious institutions or religiously observant employers to be coerced by the government to provide no-cost coverage for drugs that not only violate their rights of conscience, but that also expose women and girls to serious and often life-threatening health risks, all in the name of promoting women's health. Because the government has failed to meet its legal burden, Little Sisters of the Poor should be exempt from the contraceptive drug mandate.

See the brief here.

About Life Legal Defense Foundation
Life Legal Defense Foundation was established in 1989, and is a nonprofit organization composed of attorneys and other concerned citizens committed to giving helpless and innocent human beings of any age, and their advocates, a trained and committed voice in the courtrooms of our nation. For more information about the Life Legal Defense Foundation, visit