Letitia James Celebrates Abortion Care Win

New York Attorney General Letitia James celebrated a court ruling on Tuesday that allows the state to continue requiring companies to cover medically necessary abortions as part of their health insurance plans.

The state law was challenged by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany and other church organizations, which argued that requiring businesses to cover some abortion care in their policies was a violation of the groups’ religious freedoms. The New York Court of Appeals, however, unanimously agreed with the state on Tuesday, pointing to a ruling in 2006 when the court rejected a similar challenge to the law that requires insurance policies to cover access to contraceptive methods.

“My office successfully defended New York’s law that requires health insurance companies to include abortion care in their health plans,” James wrote in a post to X, formerly Twitter, Tuesday afternoon. “Abortion care is health care.”

Letitia James Celebrates Abortion Care Win
New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference in New York on February 16. James celebrated a court decision on Tuesday that upheld New York’s laws that require businesses to cover medically…

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

New York state financial regulators approved the policy in question in 2017 and it was also enshrined into law by Governor Kathy Hochul in the 2023 budget. Religious groups focused their lawsuit on the regulation and argued that the religious exemptions included in the policy were too vague.

The policy includes an exemption for religious employers, which in New York is defined as an organization whose sole purpose is to spread religious values. Religious employers also must employ and mainly serve individuals of the same religion and be registered as a religious nonprofit under federal law.

According to Bloomberg Law, the Diocese of Albany argued before the court last month that the current exemption qualification allows the state to “pick winners and losers” when deciding who is exempt from the insurance policy. The Associated Press (AP) reported that religious groups plan to appeal Tuesday’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We believe this is unconstitutional since it involves government entanglement in the fundamental rights of free exercise of faith and conscience,” read a statement from the diocese that was shared with AP.

Newsweek reached out to the diocese via email Tuesday night for additional comment.

James, who garnered national attention after her office won a lawsuit against former President Donald Trump and others in The Trump Organization for fraud liability, has taken several steps to establish reproductive health care access in New York after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022.

In addition to Tuesday’s court win, James’ office filed a lawsuit against an anti-abortion group and 11 crisis pregnancy centers earlier this month that accused the businesses of “misleading” women about an abortion reversal treatment. The anti-abortion groups have filed their own suit against James, alleging that the attorney general is carrying out a “witch hunt” and is violating the groups’ constitutional rights.