On Friday US Supreme Court has announced that it will take up the case to decide whether employers should be allowed to exclude themselves from providing contraceptive coverage to their workers because of moral or religious obligations.
This will be the 3rd time the contraceptive provision in Obama’s Affordable Health Care act will appear before a court for judgment. Unlike the other two times, the issue now is against Trump administration regulations allowing employers to claim exemptions based on conscience to the contraceptive insurance coverage mandated in ACA.
President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act came with a section that requires coverage of preventive health services and screenings for women when it was signed in March 2010.
In 2011, the Obama administration made it mandatory for employers and insurers to provide women with coverage at no cost for all methods of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Houses of worship, including churches, temples, and mosques, were excluded from the requirement while nonprofit groups like schools and hospitals affiliated with religious organizations were not. These organizations objected to providing coverage for any of the approved forms of contraception citing religious and moral reasons.
Trump administration had later taken the side of religious groups and regulations were updated to include an exception for employers “with sincerely held moral convictions opposed to coverage of some or all contraceptive or sterilization methods.”
The new rules were put on nationwide injection when challenged by the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The states expressed that they would have to bear much of the cost of providing contraceptives to women who lost the coverage under new rules.
The supreme court will be hearing two cases Trump v. Pennsylvania and Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania consolidated for a one-hour argument most probably in April. The state will be focusing on presenting the argument that the administration lacked statutory authority to issue the regulations and had not followed proper administrative procedures rather than going into the question of whether the Constitution gives religious objectors a right to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees.
The cases will reignite the legal conflict which has prevailed over this decades-old issue.