The U.S. Supreme Court today decided not to rule on the merits of Zubik v. Burwell and instead asked lower courts to reconsider whether the birth control accommodation substantially burdens an employer’s religious belief. The good news: Most women who need affordable birth control continue to have access it through their insurance no matter who their employer is. The bad news: Women at nonprofits continue to face uncertainty.
Bottom line: Whether women can be denied access to no-copay birth control remains a question — and that is unacceptable.
About the Decision
In particular, the decision in Zubik v. Burwell:
- Leaves the employees in these cases able to access birth control coverage for the time being
- Invites additional proceedings in the coming year from lower courts
- Maintains long-term uncertainty for women who work at religiously affiliated nonprofit organizations about whether the accommodation will enable them to access to birth control with no copay.
Now, reproductive rights advocates are hoping that the lower courts will act to give women at religiously affiliated organizations clear resolution over whether their boss will be able to ultimately deny them coverage.
The Benefits of No-Copay Birth Control Coverage
More than 55 million women nationwide have benefited from no-copay birth control, and in the first year of the birth control benefit it saved women an estimated $1.4 billion in out-of-pocket costs for birth control pills. That's why, earlier this year, Planned Parenthood joined the National Women's Law Center and other groups committed to equality for women and their access to health care in filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in support of the birth control coverage requirement and accommodation.
“The impact of birth control on women’s personal, professional and economic lives is unparalleled throughout history. It’s simply not your boss’s business whether you can access birth control through your health insurance."
—Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards
We can’t go backward — every woman deserves to benefit from historic health reform that gave 55 million women access to no-copay birth control.
The Senate Must Do Its Job
Today's decision shines a glaring spotlight on the absence of a ninth judge on the Supreme Court. The importance of having a full court to rule on reproductive health issues cannot be overstated: Women deserve nine justices and America deserves politicians who will do their job.
With the possibility that this case will be reheard, we cannot continue to let the Senate shirk their constitutional duty and obstruct democracy.
Remember: The upcoming 2016 election could determine who sits next on the Supreme Court. Access to reproductive health care and affordable birth control is on the line.
Take Action Now!
We need a Court that respects women. But women won’t stay on the sidelines with this much at stake. Help us tell Senate Republicans to do their job and confirm the president's nominee to the Supreme Court!
- Cecile Richards' commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine on the importance of birth control access
- You Won't Believe the Hoops These Bosses Want You to Jump Through