High court to determine if rule for providing birth control is at odds with religious-freedom law
The Supreme Court Friday agreed to again review Affordable Care Act contraceptive-coverage requirements, accepting challenges from Christian institutions who say arrangements crafted for them by the Obama administration are inadequate to address their birth-control objections.
In taking up a series of lawsuits on the issue, the justices brought the 2010 health-care overhaul back before the justices for the fourth time since its passage. The court will review whether the contraception rules are at odds with a federal law on religious freedom, thrusting a contentious social issue further into the limelight in an election year and raising the prospect of further changes to the health law.
As part of the Affordable Care Act, most employers have to include birth-control coverage in their health insurance plans, with no out-of-pocket costs for employees.
In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that the Obama administration had gone too far in applying that rule to the owners of for-profit companies such as arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby, who believe certain kinds of contraception to be immoral.
The court didn’t say what, if anything, federal officials could do to ensure that those employers’ workers—or those at religiously affiliated nonprofit institutions—were able to get birth-control coverage. Under the arrangement, the administration sought to accommodate employers opposed to some or all kinds of birth control by crafting a system in which employers can state their religious objections and the government then turns to the insurer to cover birth control, without the religious groups’ involvement.
That paved the way for fresh legal challenges. Dozens of religiously linked employers have challenged the accommodation as insufficient, arguing it leaves them complicit in a practice that violates their beliefs.Read the rest of the story HERE.
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