After the nation’s highest court upheld historic health care law, for-profit company attempting to refuse women access to contraception benefit
(PRESS RELEASE) The U.S. Supreme Court today announced it will review a for-profit company’s legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s copay-free birth control benefit—a critical component of the health care law’s expansion of preventive health care services for all women.
The case, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., focuses on the Oklahoma-based arts and crafts store’s claim that providing female employees access to contraception, free of out-of-pocket cost, through Hobby Lobby health care plans would violate the company’s religious beliefs. The company prevailed on those claims before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on June 27.
The Affordable Care Act—which was signed into law more than three years ago and upheld last year by the U.S. Supreme Court—vastly expands women’s access to copay-free preventive health care, including contraception, cancer screenings, HIV and STI testing, well-woman visits, breastfeeding support, and prenatal and post-partum care and counseling.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“The right to religious freedom belongs to individuals, not for-profit institutions. Our fundamental individual liberties must be protected so that these for-profit companies are no more entitled to deny women insurance coverage for essential health care than they are to dictate how any of us can and cannot spend our paychecks.
“The U.S. Supreme Court should use this opportunity to strongly reinforce the bedrock principles of individual liberty on which this nation was founded, and to establish clear limits on the assertion of corporate rights in defiance of federal law and individual rights.”
The Hobby Lobby case is just one of more than 40 similar lawsuits filed by for-profit, private companies in courts all across the country.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, along with several other health and legal organizations, have argued in amicus briefs that the contraception benefit not only does not burden employers’ ability to exercise their personal religious beliefs, but it advances the government’s compelling interest in improving access to contraceptives.
Furthermore, international human rights law—including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)—mandates that the right to health, including access affordable contraception, must be respected, protected, and fulfilled by governments. Governments have a responsibility to reject efforts by third parties attempting to interfere with women’s access to health care services guaranteed by law to all.