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Male students from CORE Academy does an exercise during a safe sex class on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017 at The Center. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Nevada is asking a federal court to allow it to intervene in a lawsuit challenging a requirement in the Affordable Care Act that employer-sponsored health insurance cover birth control.

In a motion filed on Friday, Attorney General Aaron Ford argued that Nevada and its residents would be harmed should the court rule that employers are not required to provide health insurance plans that cover some contraceptive costs. Four residents and a health center in Texas argue in the lawsuit that the federal health-care law’s contraceptive mandate violates their religious freedom.

Ford, in a statement, said that nearly 400,000 Nevada women covered under employer-sponsored health insurance plans could be affected by the outcome of this case.

“The State of Nevada has stepped up before to defend Nevada’s interests before the courts on this issue,” Ford said. “We now step in again to make sure our interests in preventive care are represented. I’m proud to lead this effort to protect women’s access to health care.”

The brief notes that Nevada law specifically requires state-regulated health insurance plans to provide coverage for contraceptive services, except for those affiliated with a religious organization that objects on religious grounds.

“Plaintiffs disregard these statues and the harms to Nevada citizens and budget that would be caused by implementation of such nationwide class relief,” the brief states.

Those harms, according to the brief, include increases in unplanned pregnancies, reversal of decreases in abortion and increased health-care costs to the state.

The brief notes that, should the contraceptive mandate go away, some women covered under employer-sponsored health insurance plans would not be able to access replacement care through Medicaid or Title X because they do not meet the income eligibility requirements for programs, and those who do qualify for those programs would strain Nevada’s safety net programs.

This lawsuit is one of several actions Nevada has taken on the Affordable Care Act’s protections for contraception. Earlier this year, Nevada filed an amicus brief asking the courts to block two Trump administration rules allowing employers to deny contraceptive coverage to workers on religious and moral grounds, and, after a federal district issued an injunction, filed another brief asking the injunction to be upheld nationwide.

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