Extending the Affordable Care Act Under Equal Protection Law to Cover Male Sterilization
The Affordable Care Act requires coverage for female but not male sterilization, a disparity that this Note refers to as the Sterilization Gap. Although female sterilization is more dangerous, more expensive, and less effective than male sterilization, the Sterilization Gap incentivizes women to be sterilized rather than men. This Note argues that sterilization coverage should be extended to men. Because courts are empowered to extend underinclusive laws—like that which creates the Sterilization Gap—if they find them unconstitutional, litigation may be the best method of extending coverage. This Note presents a comprehensive argument for why the Sterilization Gap is unconstitutional and coverage should be extended. First, it argues that the Sterilization Gap is a facial sex classification because both sexes can be sterilized, even though the procedure is sex specific. Next, it argues that the classification violates constitutional equal protection law, because it is not based on a biological difference and does not remedy discrimination against women. Then, it argues that the classification was created either through impermissible oversight or gender stereotypes, and that it will perpetuate the stereotype that contraception is a woman’s responsibility, to the detriment of both sexes. Finally, it concludes by asserting that had Congress known that the Sterilization Gap was unconstitutional, it would likely have chosen to extend coverage to men rather than nullify the law, because extension would further its goals while causing comparatively little disruption to the statutory scheme.