Politics

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The Supreme Court of the United States decided Wednesday that under the Affordable Care Act, employers may be exempt from providing contraceptive coverage to their employees due to religious or moral obligations

PHOTO CREDITS: PATRICK SEMANSKY/AP

In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States decided Wednesday that under the Affordable Care Act, employers may be exempt from providing contraceptive coverage to their employees due to religious or moral obligations (ACLU). Justice Thomas, Justice Alito joined by Justice Gorsuch, and Justice Kagan joined by Justice Breyer, each filed opinions agreeing to the decision (SCOTUS blog). Justice Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Sotomayor. ~

The case was a consolidation of Trump v. Pennsylvania and Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania (SCOTUS). Prior to this case, existing exemptions in the Affordable Care Act covered churches who run religious services, but not religious organizations who do community outreach work (SCOTUS). Because of this, some religious organizations, namely the Little Sisters of the Poor, were not exempt from the ruling, and were forced to provide contraceptive coverage despite their religious beliefs (SCOTUS). It is noted in the case arguments transcript that the Little Sisters of the Poor may not have any current employees who requested contraceptive coverage, but did not feel as though they should be obligated to provide it if an employee did request (SCOTUS). ~

Those who support the decision believe that being forced to provide contraceptives would violate their first amendment rights regarding religious freedom, and that an exception should be made similar to other church exemption laws (SCOTUS). They also note that employers who did not object to contraceptives would have no reason to refuse coverage, as coverage does not cost extra. According to transcripts of the decision from the dissenting opinion, those who disagree with the decision worry that it places an unnecessary burden on women who may be unable to afford contraceptives out-of-pocket, should their employer refuse coverage. Justice Ginsburg also referenced that several prior cases made accommodations for religious employers while still protecting women’s reproductive care coverage (SCOTUS). ~

ARTICLE: DANIEL ENGLAND

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