Justice Sotomayor Blocks Birth Control For Nuns?

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In a move that will surely make some people scratch their head, Justice Sotomayor has issued a reprieve a day before the Affordable Healthcare Act would be the law of the land. The government is temporarily prevented from enforcing contraceptive coverage requirements against (wait for it...wait for it...) a group of Denver-based nuns. The Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged for whatever reason expect that area of the Affordable Healthcare Act to apply to their organization.

A statement released by the White House said that they, "...remain confident that our final rules strike the balance of providing women with free contraceptive coverage while preventing non-profit religious employers with religious objections to contraceptive coverage from having to contract, arrange, pay, or refer for such coverage."

In other words if you want to have condoms and birth control pills available to you, they will be. Meanwhile if you're a nun who no one is expecting to require either of these items for a host of reasons, you won't be forced to endure the nightmare of health care coverage for them either.

But it's not just the nuns who came forward and ask that the law be blocked. Other religious bodies such as the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington, the Catholic Diocese of Nashville, Catholic University and the Michigan Catholic Conference, have asked for the law and related fines to be delayed while they make their arguments. Government officials are expected to respond by Friday.

Some individuals religiously and morally object to any form of birth control to the point that they do not want to be reimbursed for any of it; they simply want to avoid paying for it altogether. It should be noted that unwanted pregnancies will cost American taxpayers of all faiths about $11 billion dollars a year. This is apparently no small price to pay to do what you feel is right religiously.

The idea that persons can opt out of American Healthcare Act by raising a "religious" objection might be a slippery slope. How many Americans who've never gone to church a day in their life can suddenly cite first amendment rights to avoid paying for the health care benefits of their employees? No doubt more sensible compromises will be reached. If not, it should set quite the precedent.

What do YOU think: Was this reprieve given because the groups raise important legal questions or was it religious posturing over a secular law? How should the government respond to circumstances like this?

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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