The issue of ObamaCare’s birth control policy is currently dividing the Supreme Court. The conflict revolves around a religious nonprofit objection to paying for an insurance plan covering contraception.
Generally the issue also touches on health care, abortion, and religious freedom. The eight Justices will be deciding on whether institutions that are religiously affiliated can be exempted from having to pay for birth control and other reproductive health coverage in their ObamaCare health plans.
It’s another religious freedom v. birth control showdown at SCOTUS this week: https://t.co/jrYOiKmRpp pic.twitter.com/HnIx1PIf26
— Slate (@Slate) March 23, 2016
The 90-minute debate grew tense as the Justices discussed ideological differences over moral and administrative implications of the law.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in a recent statement that an exception for Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic charity of nuns involved in the issue, could make the law impractical.
However, Chief Justice John Roberts countered the statement by arguing that the religious nonprofit and other petitioners’ mechanism against the birth control mandate can be used to provide services because the government still wants continuous coverage.
Rights of the religious & secular clash again at #SCOTUS today, this time in context of #Obamacare & birth control. https://t.co/vzps1NM89l
— NPR (@NPR) March 23, 2016
The Little Sisters of the Poor are led by nuns but they also employ lay workers who could be eligible for the exemption from paying birth control and other reproductive health coverage if they win. Other possible groups and establishments to be included in the exemption are hospitals, parochial schools, and private faith-based universities.
Little Sisters of the Poor believe the Obamacare mandate violates their religious liberty. #HandsOffMyBC https://t.co/pB4W0iyzVR
— Heritage Foundation (@Heritage) March 23, 2016
However, a 4-4 split amongst the Justices could leave the provision in place for now. The death of Justice Antonin Scalia has left the legal fight about the birth control mandate up in the air.
Other appeals courts have agreed that the accommodation offered to religious groups is lawful. However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit says that it violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.
By definition, birth control is prescribed not only to avoid pregnancy but also to treat various female medical conditions.