The U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 30 that business owners can object on religious grounds to a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires companies to provide health insurance coverage for birth control and that these closely held public companies cannot be required to pay to cover some types of contraceptives for their employees, according to media reports.
The court ruled in a 5-4 vote that such companies can seek an exemption. The decision means employees of those companies will have to obtain certain forms of birth control from other sources.
The owners of Hobby Lobby, furniture maker Conestoga Wood Specialties and Christian bookseller Mardel argued the ACA violates the First Amendment and other federal laws protecting religious freedom because it requires them to provide coverage for four FDA-approved contraceptives that may operate after the fertilization of an egg. These include two forms of emergency contraception commonly called morning-after pills and two types of intrauterine devices.
In the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Anthony Alito indicated that the HHS system in place … seeks to respect the religious liberty of religious nonprofit corporations while ensuring that the employees of these entities have precisely the same access to all FDA-approved contraceptives as employees of companies whose owners have no religious objections to providing such coverage. He continued, writing the HHS has provided no reason why the same system cannot be made available to for-profit corporations that have similar religious objections.
In her dissenting statement Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would override significant interests of the corporations employees and covered dependents. It would deny legions of women who do not hold their employers beliefs access to contraceptive coverage that the ACA would otherwise secure.