High Court rules in favor of Hobby Lobby
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that American business owners with religious objections may deny contraceptive coverage as part of universal employee health insurance now required by law.
The decision on a 5-4 vote means employees of those companies will have to obtain certain forms of birth control from other sources and causes a major setback for President Obama’s health care law.
In the Burwell v Hobby Lobby case, the evangelical Christian owners of an arts-and-crafts chain refused to cover certain forms of contraception such as the morning-after pill in their employee health plan, arguing that would make them complicit in abortions.
In the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito indicated that employees could still be able to obtain the birth control coverage via an accommodation to the mandate that the Obama administration has already introduced for religious-affiliated nonprofits.
The decision drew ire from certain groups who say it will prove deeply damaging to Americans’ access to health care, well beyond the scope of contraception coverage.
The Secular advocacy group the Center for Inquiry noted, “The Supreme Court based its decision on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which provides that a law that burdens a person’s religious beliefs must be justified by a compelling government interest. Today the Court made clear it does not view Americans’ access to medically necessary health care as a compelling government interest, and announced loud and clear that the religious preferences of employers take preference over the health needs of workers.”
“The potential effects of this decision are absolutely chilling, setting a precedent that is sure to reverberate far beyond the issue of contraceptive coverage,” said Ronald A. Lindsay, President and CEO of the Center for Inquiry.
“This is not a decision that advances religious freedom – it is a decision that enshrines religious privilege over and above employee well-being,” added Lindsay. “This decision defies common sense, lacks compassion, and has the potential to harm us all.”