Supreme Court to Hear Contraception Mandate Cases in 2014

Today the Supreme Court of the United States announced it would hear two cases related to the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act. 

The Affordable Care Act requires most employers to provide health insurance that includes coverage of all FDA-approved methods of contraceptives without co-pay. Churches and other houses of worship, as well as religious non-profit organizations are exempt from this mandate.

Despite these exemptions, many business owners continue to argue that their personal religious beliefs should allow them to put limitations on their employees medical coverage. Due to their personal moral opposition to the use of contraceptives, these business owners claim their freedom of religion is being violated. 

The first case accepted by the Supreme Court, Sebelius v Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., is one of over 40 cases brought against the federal government by for-profit businesses arguing on the basis of freedom of religion. In this case, an appeals court temporarily exempted the for-profit business from the requirement citing the owner’s religious beliefs. The administration is challenging this ruling in the Supreme Court.

Medical experts and organizations are finding access to birth control to be a fundamental part of women’s reproductive healthcare. A strong majority of all women of reproductive age have used contraception at some point in their lives, including over 95 percent of Catholic women.  Studies have shown contraceptive use has a positive impact on women’s education and workforce participation, and positive outcomes related to their income, family stability, mental health and happiness, as well as the well-being of their children. 

The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments on these cases as early as March, 2014.

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