Administration Urged to Steer Hobby Lobby Into Same Murky Coverage Territory as Nonprofits
A D.C. delegate to Congress said the Obama administration should get busy on a work-around to circumvent the religious objections to some types of birth control held by business owners such as Hobby Lobby.
Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) said that as a result of the 5-4 decision Monday, which found that a privately-held business could limit coverage on types of birth control they saw as being akin to abortion, "many women and families will be unable to prevent unintended pregnancies."
"Unfortunately, those who are most likely to be affected are girls and young women who are not prepared to be parents," Norton said.
"...Most forms of contraception will continue to be covered by the Affordable Care Act’s no co-pay provision for birth control. The decision applies only to 'closely held corporations,' which are owned by fewer than five people with more than 50 percent of the outstanding stock."
Norton noted that "the Court leaves open the possibility that even employees of such corporations could be covered by the Affordable Care Act’s contraception provision if the federal government creates some distance between closely held corporations and the mode of payments for contraception, such as the accommodation already provided to protect nonprofit organizations that claim religious objections."
"I urge the administration to make this accommodation available for employees of closely held corporations as soon as possible in order to prevent more litigation and interference with women’s reproductive health," she said. "Every effort must now be made to take advantage of the five-man court majority’s effort to cabin its decision and to stress its narrow reach."
However, the compromise touted by the administration on providing contraceptive coverage to nonprofits such as employers associated with the Catholic Church is working its way through court, as well.
"At first glance, the new rules have struck some people as a modest improvement. They appear to expand, in a limited way, the kind of religiously-affiliated entities that can claim exemption from providing insurance coverage for contraceptive and abortion-related services under the new Affordable Care Act," Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput wrote in February 2013.
"The White House has made no concessions to the religious conscience claims of private businesses, and the whole spirit of the 'compromise' is minimalist... The scholar Yuval Levin has stressed that the new HHS mandate proposal, 'like the versions that have preceded it, betrays a complete lack of understanding of both religious liberty and religious conscience.' In reality, despite the appearance of compromise, 'the government has forced a needless and completely avoidable confrontation and has knowingly put many religious believers in an impossible situation.'"