Supreme Court Extends Birth Control Exemption

The controversy over access to birth control continues throughout the country, and the Supreme Court is slowly wading in.  On Friday, the Court extended exemption from the birth control mandate for a religious non-profit while the case is being heard in federal court. 

Bringing the suit is a group of nuns from The Little Sisters of the Poor in Colorado.  They argue that the contraception mandate, from which they can relatively easily claim an exemption as a religious non-profit, is in violation of their religious rights.  On a practical level, the issue at stake is whether or not the paperwork required to comply with the exemption poses a burden on the group. 

The Supreme Court did order the group to state their exemption in writing and file it with the Court.  As a result, the decision to extend the exemption could negate the group’s argument in federal court that the paperwork is a burden on their religious liberty.  For the time being, however, the consequences of this exemption remain unclear.    

This specific case does not directly affect the suits currently being brought by for-profit companies who claim that corporations have religious freedom and that such freedom is infringed upon by the requirement that employees have insurance covering birth control.  Hobby Lobby, the largest for-profit company to bring such a lawsuit, will present oral arguments before the Supreme Court in March.  The decision in that case will likely have far-reaching effects on health insurance and the rights of corporations.

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