Supreme Court To Tackle Obamacare Birth Control Cases
The Supreme Court decided on Tuesday to hear a legal conflict involving Christian companies who disapprove of “abortion-inducing” drugs and are challenging an Obamacare provision which would procure birth control coverage for their employees.
The Affordable Care Act requires employers to include contraception, sterilization and preventive services without co-pay in their health insurance options for female workers. Nationwide craft dealer Hobby Lobby is one of the dozens of companies spearheading the case, which made it past a federal appeals court before being considered by the Supreme Court. As of now, companies refusing to include coverage for women could receive fines of up to $1.3 million per day.
Oral arguments are scheduled to be held in March, while a ruling is expected by June.
The featured argument of the hearing will be whether corporations have the same rights as individuals to cite religious reasons as per the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.
“Few issues are more important than the extent to which the government must recognize and accommodate the religious exercise of those it regulates,” Hobby Lobby’s attorneys wrote last October to the Supreme Court. Earlier this year, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals spoke for Hobby Lobby, stating that “ the contraceptive-coverage requirement substantially burdens” the retailer and that it should not be subject to fines.
However, others believe that the case would set a negative precedent of overstepping for Christian employers. “What else can bosses decide?” said Judy Waxman, vice president of health and reproductive rights for the National Women’s Law Center. “Can they decide they don’t want to cover vaccines or HIV medications? Can they say, ‘I don’t believe in these kinds of wage and hour rules?’ To say, ‘Yes, a corporation can impose its religion on employees’ — that can have very far-reaching implications.”