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Airline Charged with Discrimination over Contraceptive Coverage

An American Airlines employee has filed a complaint with the Los Angeles Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), arguing that the company’s refusal to provide insurance coverage for contraception, Pap smear tests, and infertility treatments discriminates against women. Martina Alexander filed the complaint after she sought coverage for infertility treatments and learned that, while her insurance plan covered the male sexual stimulant Viagra, it did not cover important women’s health necessities like Pap smears, which detect cervical cancer and other dangerous conditions. A spokesperson for the airline said that its insurance plans cover only “medications and prescriptions which are deemed medically necessary.” The American Cancer Society estimates that 4,600 women will die from cervical cancer this year.

The state of California, as of January 2000, requires employers who offer health plans with prescription coverage to include contraceptive prescriptions in their plans. In December, the EEOC adopted the position that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act forbids the exclusion of women’s health necessities from insurance coverage. If the American Airlines reaches the federal courts, it will be argued as a class action suit.

Sources:

Los Angeles Times - April 24, 2001 and the American Cancer Society

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