The proverbial last straw snapped for Jackie Fitzgerald when she found herself short of cash and debating whether to fill her car's fuel tank or her birth control prescription in 2001.
Fitzgerald, a trainman for Union Pacific Railroad Co. (UP), spent her last $40 to buy gas to get to work, a decision that led to an unplanned pregnancy.
The Circuit court's decision will turn on its interpretation of Title VII. UP urges on appeal that "the overriding command" of Title VII is to treat men and women "the same," and argues that denying contraceptive coverage to all employees satisfies that standard. Plus, UP points out that it already spends more on health coverage for women than it does for men. Planned Parenthood counters that because only females can get pregnant, giving women and men the same coverage is discriminatory.
That was the argument that swayed the district court. Judge Camp held that UP's prescription drug plans violate Title VII because they treat the medical care women need to prevent pregnancy less favorably than the medical care needed to prevent other, less serious health conditions, such as erectile dysfunction.