WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court today heard oral arguments in two cases brought by for-profit businesses challenging the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit.
Hobby Lobby, an arts-and-crafts store, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a cabinetmaker, are suing the federal government over the law’s requirement that insurance plans cover all FDA-approved contraceptives— a benefit 27 million women already have access to. More than 40 other for-profit businesses also are attacking the provision.
“Today’s arguments highlight just how out of touch these businesses’ claims are with the needs of American women and expectations about health care,” said Susan Berke Fogel, National Health Law Program director of reproductive health. “It is remarkable that in 2014 we have corporations asking the Supreme Court to allow them to dictate their employee’s health.”
As outlined in NHeLP’s amicus brief, contraception is part of established standards of medical care and backed by major medical academies in the U.S. and Western Europe. Contraception is crucial not only to planning pregnancies, but for women managing chronic diseases—conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and lupus, which disproportionately impact women of color.
Cost and access barriers contribute to higher rates of unintended pregnancy and worse maternal and birth outcomes for women of color. Prior to the law, out-of-pocket costs for birth control could run as high as $600 a year, putting reliable methods out of reach for many women.
“Health care must be based on patient need and good medical practice,” said Fogel. “This is what every single patient wants and expects. Nowhere does a boss’s personal belief fit in that equation.”
NHeLP is a leader on the issue of attempts to limit access to health care based on ideological or political claims, commonly known as health-care refusals. NHeLP’s groundbreaking report, Health Care Refusals: Undermining Quality Care for Women has been cited by leading health authorities and policy makers.
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