No to Four Kinds of Contraception for Employees of Hobby Lobby's 15 Houston Stores [Updated]
Photo by Nicholas Eckhart
This story was updated to include a statement from Governor Rick Perry and to shed some light on exactly what kind of contraceptives we're talking about here.
Hobby Lobby has 15 stores in the Greater Houston Area, and none of them will have to offer insurance coverage for birth control methods the company equates to abortion.
The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 protects corporations with a limited number of shareholders from providing insurance coverage for such contraception under the Affordable Care Act.
"Today, the nation's highest court has reaffirmed the vital importance of religious liberty as one of our country's founding principles," Hobby Lobby co-founder Barbara Green said in a USA Today story. "The court's decision is a victory, not just for our family business, but for all who seek to live out their faith."
Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma-based corporation, was joined in the suit by Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., a Pennsylvania cabinet manufacturer.
Under the Affordable Care Act, companies with over 50 employees face fines of $100 per day per employee for not providing coverage. USA Today reported that could've cost Hobby Lobby $475 million per year for its 13,000 employees had the Supreme Court not ruled in its favor and the company continued to not supply coverage for contraception.
Texas Governor Rick Perry voiced his thoughts on the matter in a statement his office released today.
"Today's decision is further proof that Obamacare represents one of the greatest governmental overreaches in our nation's history," Perry said. "Religious freedom is an intrinsic part of being American, and the Supreme Court's decision reaffirms that the government cannot mandate that anyone operate in a fashion counter to their most deeply-felt principles."
As Vox.com pointed out, the ruling applies only to contraception. For example, Christian Scientists do not believe in chemotherapy, but a corporation owned by Christian Scientists would still, by law, be forced to provide the coverage for it.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote as such in the majority opinion:
This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to hold that all insurance-coverage mandates, e.g., for vaccinations or blood transfusions, must necessarily fall if they conflict with an employer's religious beliefs.
The Atlantic breaks down some of the specifics about exactly what these Hobby Lobby employees won't have covered:
This case centers around specific religious objections to contraceptives that prevent an egg from implanting in a woman's uterus, which plaintiffs believe are tantamount to abortion. Out of the 20 Food and Drug Adminstration-approved birth control methods, the two companies involved in the case--Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood--object to four: two kinds of emergency contraceptive or "morning after" pills, and two types of intrauterine devices, or IUDs.
The morning-after pills work in a couple of ways. They may just prevent ovulation so the egg is never released from the ovary, they may prevent fertilization of the egg, or they may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. It's that last one that's the problem. IUDs are a little more confusing--as my colleague Olga Khazan wrote, though they typically prevent the sperm from reaching the egg, they can also be used as emergency contraception, if they're implanted up to five days after unprotected sex.