The Washington Post's Sarah Kliff reports:
With dozens of lawsuits on the issue already filed, the Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it would take up two private companies' challenges to the health law's birth control mandate.
Obamacare, in other words, is headed back to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court will hear two challenges to the requirement that all employers provide birth control coverage to their workers. One comes from craft store chain Hobby Lobby and the other from Conestoga Wood Specialties, a custom cabinet-making company in Pennsylvania.
The owners of both companies have argued that the requirement to provide employers with contraceptive coverage is a violation of their religious liberty.
Although the case may determine whether or not Catholic employers are required to provide--and their employees are required to purchase--health plans that cover birth control, it's worth noting that the Hobby Lobby, which is owned by evangelical Christians, doesn't object to covering contraception.
"The Green family has no objection to preventative birth control, and they will continue to cover this in their comprehensive health insurance plan for their employees," Hobby Lobby employee Mandi Broadfoot explains in this video. The owners simply object to Obamacare's requirement that pills that can induce early abortions must also be covered.
If Hobby Lobby wins, it would turn back the clock in America all the way to the year 2012. If you can remember what life was like back then, most employers covered birth control and the federal government spent hundreds of millions of dollars providing it to the poor, low-income Americans, and the uninsured:
Today, in the United States, the federal government does not force insurers to provide free contraception. Yet contraception is as widely available as it is cheap. Most insurance policies cover it. The federal government gives birth control to the poor through Medicaid. The federal government spends an additional $300 million per year to provide it to low-income and uninsured Americans who don’t qualify for Medicaid—spending that the staunchest conservatives in Congress supported even when Republicans controlled the presidency, the Senate, and the House. If a middle- or upper-income woman happens to be in one of the small number of plans that don’t cover contraception—say, an employee at a college run by Catholic nuns—she can buy birth control pills for as little as $9 per month at Target.
Yet by the logic of the Obama campaign and many Democrats in the House and Senate, the current policy amounts to a “ban” on contraception. And the federal government can only right this injustice by forcing private insurers—including insurers of religious institutions—to provide free contraception, as well as free drugs that can induce abortions early in pregnancy.
“Let’s admit what this debate is really and what Republicans really want to take away from American women. It is contraception,” New York Democrat Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor. He said Republicans were trying to enact a “contraception ban” that would send the country back to the “19th century.” Not to be outdone, Democratic senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey said that Republicans want to take us back to “the Dark Ages . . . when women were property that you could easily control, trade even if you wanted to.”
The Obama campaign claimed that Republicans effectively wanted to force women to get a “permission slip” from their employers to “access birth control pills, intrauterine devices, or any other type of contraception.” Obama’s deputy campaign manager wrote in an email to supporters: “If you’re a woman, who do you think should have control over your choice to use contraception: You or your employer?”