The Affordable Care Act contains a requirement that company health insurance which covers prescription drugs must cover contraceptive medication. Exemptions are provided for religious institutions where objection to contraception is part of their doctrinal belief. Twenty-eight states have similar mandates in their insurance laws and these have been upheld in court. In California Catholic Charities of Sacramento challenged the requirement and lost. When they appealed to the California Supreme Court, they lost again, and the United States Supreme Court has refused to hear their case.
Now Hobby Lobby stores have sued to have the exemption extended to their business, which is not a religious institution in the legal definition, because the owners object to contraception, forms of which they consider to be abortion (IUD's and the morning after pill).
In the past the courts have not granted exemptions to religiously neutral laws of general applicability simply on the basis of religious objections, but Congress passed and President Clinton signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) by an almost unanimous vote in 1993, essentially nullifying that practice on the grounds of a finding by Congress that neutral laws could substantially burden religious freedom.
Now the federal government is required to defend any action deemed burdensome to religious freedom as deriving from a compelling government interest and being the least invasive means possible for attaining that goal. In other words while Congress cannot make a law regarding the establishment of a religion, it can protect religious sensibilities by elevating religion in general to a privileged place in law. The RFRA was found unconstitutional in part in a case involving the Catholic Church because the law was interpreted as applying to states and municipalities, which exceeds the enforcement authority of Congress.
Given that six of the Supreme Court Justices are Roman Catholic, it seems quite likely that Hobby Lobby will prevail and that private for-profit companies will be able to ignore any provisions of law that it deems offensive to the religious sensibilities of the owners. Presumably business owners who object on religious grounds to blood transfusions can have them excluded from coverage.
I take this as another sign the country is moving to the right at a rapid pace. This is not good news for atheists.
In legal terminology there is a distinction between the terms natural person and legal person. A natural person is an individual human being, but a legal person may be a natural person or a corporation or organization.
The Supreme Court was not plowing new lexicographic ground in this, but rather extending prior decisions that money is speech and hence protected by the First Amendment.
Actually the contraceptive mandate in the insurance requirement of 28 states was in response to complaints about gender equality. Viagra and other such drugs were routinely covered in healthcare insurance policies with prescription drug coverage. Courts ruled that excluding contraception would therefore be discrimination against women.
If the Supreme Court decides in favor of Hobby Lobby, the eventual result may be that Viagra will have to be excluded as well as contreceptive medications. That will surely raise something.
The thing is, contraceptives are not just used for birth control either.
Honestly, I doubt Hobby Lobby even cares about the secondary benefits of some birth control methods, Susan. All they can see is women's sexual freedom as a threat to their BS, and they can't deal with it.
I have been reading that they only started opposing contraceptives because of the mandate. Before that they actually had no problem including it in their health plans.
And I keep emphasizing that 28 states have a contraceptive mandate in their insurance laws. Any prescription provided by a qualified physician for any suitable medication ought to be allowed. There is no basis for a religious exemption for private business. The California Supreme Court denied such a claim from Sacramento Catholic Charities and the United States Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from that decision.
Agreed. Hobby Lobby's trip is about men having control vs. women having control as regards their own bodies. HB needs to be kicked squarely and firmly in the nuts until they understand that they are in the wrong about this. Whether SCOTUS is willing to actually DO that or not, honestly, I'm dubious.
The point is that this issue has been adjudicated several times. For any who might be interested in reading about the California case of Catholic Charities of Sacramento, here are some links:
The decision of the California Supreme Court was appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which refused to hear it. Of interest in the California case was a finding that women paid more for health care in many cases and when they did, it was primarily the cost of contraception that boosted their expenses.