The Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases — from Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. — on the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate.
The challenge hinges on whether employers can opt out of the requirement because of the religious convictions of the business owners.
Arguments will likely be heard in March with a decision in June.
White House press secretary Jay Carney just issued a statement on the news:
The health care law puts women and families in control of their health care by covering vital preventive care, like cancer screenings and birth control, free of charge. Earlier this year, the Obama Administration asked the Supreme Court to consider a legal challenge to the health care law’s requirement that for-profit corporations include birth control coverage in insurance available to their employees. We believe this requirement is lawful and essential to women’s health and are confident the Supreme Court will agree.
We do not comment on specifics of a case pending before the Court. As a general matter, our policy is designed to ensure that health care decisions are made between a woman and her doctor. The President believes that no one, including the government or for-profit corporations, should be able to dictate those decisions to women. The Administration has already acted to ensure no church or similar religious institution will be forced to provide contraception coverage and has made a commonsense accommodation for non-profit religious organizations that object to contraception on religious grounds. These steps protect both women’s health and religious beliefs, and seek to ensure that women and families–not their bosses or corporate CEOs–can make personal health decisions based on their needs and their budgets.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) blasted the decision, saying “allowing a woman’s boss to call the shots about her access to birth control should be inconceivable to all Americans in this day and age.”
“In weighing this case my hope is that the court realizes that women working for private companies should be afforded the same access to medical care, regardless of who signs their paycheck,” Murray said. “We can’t allow legal precedent to dictate that the personal beliefs of those in positions of power can block those who aren’t from making their own health care decisions. That is a slippery slope that could lead to bosses dictating everything from an employee’s ability to access HIV treatment to their ability to vaccinate their children.”
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said “by failing to protect religious freedom, the Senate guaranteed that the courts would have to act.”
“I’m pleased the Supreme Court has decided to hear this important case,” Blunt added. “The HHS mandate is an enormous government overreach and it violates Americans’ constitutional rights. Employers should not be forced to choose between giving up their business for their faith or giving up their faith for their business.”