The Supreme Court ruled today [PDF] that employers with religious objections to birth control are not required to cover contraception in health insurance plans for women under the Affordable Care Act. The court ruled 5-4 in favor of Hobby Lobby, a chain of craft stores owned by evangelical Christians who oppose birth control. The Obama administration had made a variety of concessions for religious employers like churches and religious non-profits, but this ruling affects for-profit businesses. (According to Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog, this ruling will not apply to publicly held corporations, just family-owned businesses when the owners in question are clearly religious.)
Specifically, this ruling pertained to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, enacted by President Clinton, which prevents laws that burden how someone can exercise their religion. Politico notes that today’s decision is “the first time that the Supreme Court has allowed companies the ability to declare a religious belief.”
Supporters of the contraception mandate in the ACA warn that today’s ruling could have other repercussions, such as allowing employers to refuse to cover for other medical treatments they oppose like blood transfusions.
Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. employes over 13,000 people nationwide. They, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, who are owned by Mennonites, specifically opposed to IUDs and the morning-after pill, both of which they erroneously believe to cause abortions.
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