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US Supreme Court to Hear Case With 'Far Reaching Consequences' for Women's Healthcare

Ruling in favor of corporations could 'set a dangerous precedent'

Common Dreams staff

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it will hear a case regarding for-profit companies who wish to refuse contraception coverage in their employees' insurance plans in spite of a legal requirement by the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act.

As the Huffington Post reports:

Dozens of companies have sued the Obama administration over a rule in the Affordable Care Act requiring most employers — with the exception of churches and religious non-profits — to cover the full range of contraceptives in their health insurance plans.

The Supreme Court will hear the most high-profile case, filed by the Christian-owned craft supply chain Hobby Lobby, as well as Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, a case filed by a Pennsylvania-based furniture company owned by a family of Mennonites.

Should the justices rule in favor of Hobby Lobby or Conestoga, millions of women could be denied access to affordable birth control, civil rights and health groups are warning.

And as the national women's healthcare and advocacy group Planned Parenthood stated today, the move would "set a dangerous precedent allowing businesses to deny their employees a whole host of other medical procedures and treatments to which they are legally entitled, based on the employer’s personal beliefs."

"If the Supreme Court decides for bosses rather than for women's health, far-reaching consequences could result," said Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center. "Women could find their bosses not only interfering in their private reproductive healthcare decisions, but other care as well."

Birth control is a "basic health care for women," urged Cecile Richards, president, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, "and it is tremendously important to women for all kinds of reasons, including to control certain medical conditions like endometriosis and to plan our families."

These decisions should be made between patients and their doctors, Richards argues, "and no boss should be able to interfere."

“Everyone has a right to their religious beliefs, but religious freedom does not include the right to impose your beliefs on others,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU. “It does not mean that businesses can refuse to comply with the law based on their religious beliefs, particularly where that means discriminating against their employees.”

Oral arguments in the case will likely be begin in March and a ruling is expected by June, Reuters reports.


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