The Guardian: Hobby Lobby ruling—firms can refuse to provide contraception coverage

The Guardian: Hobby Lobby ruling—firms can refuse to provide contraception coverage

Justices side with Hobby Lobby and rule companies can claim religious exemption from Obamacare birth control mandate

By Dan Roberts and Amanda Holpuch

Conservatives celebrated a victory over Obamacare on Monday after the supreme court ruled that some companies should be allowed a religious exemption from rules requiring them to include all forms of contraception in employee health policies.

In a judgment with significant implications for the legal rights of corporations, a narrow majority of five justices argued that “closely held” businesses such as the family-run Hobby Lobby chain of stores, which brought the test case, enjoyed the same religious protections under law as individuals.

Hobby Lobby’s Christian owners and others like them will now be free to remove four controversial contraception methods from insurance plans provided to their 13,000 staff, claiming they amount to a form of abortion because they take effect after the point of fertilisation.

The wider implications for Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) were less immediately clear, with critics arguing the ruling could open the floodgates to companies seeking other religious exemptions for treatments such as blood transfusions and vaccines, but conservative justices insisting their “very specific” ruling should not set a precedent.

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