Washington, DC — Today, the Supreme Court of the United States announced its decision to grant certiorari in seven cases, which are challenges by religiously affiliated organizations to the requirement that they fill out a specific government form in order to be granted a religious exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s birth control provision.
Statement from Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
"This case isn’t about religious freedom — it’s about trying to use a technicality to block women from accessing birth control. All women should have access to birth control without a copay, no matter where she works, lives, or how much money she makes. Instead, religious organizations, who are already exempt from the birth control provision of the ACA, are trying to argue they don’t even have to complete basic paperwork.
“Whatever the court decides, let this case serve as yet another reminder that the birth control benefit is having a transformative effect on millions of women's lives. As a result, women now save $1.4 billion a year on birth control pills alone — showing the clear economic impact that access to no-copay birth control has had on women’s lives.”
Several nonprofit religiously affiliated employers have raised legal challenges to the accommodation. These employers have alleged that the accommodation, itself, violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) because completing a one page form or notifying HHS in writing of their religious objection to covering contraception is a substantial burden on their religious beliefs — despite the fact that the accommodation frees them from covering contraception in their health plans. Seven federal Courts of Appeals rejected these nonprofits' claims that the birth control accommodation violates RFRA. However, on September 17, 2015, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of several employers, affirming the grant of a preliminary injunction.
Background on Birth Control:
A lot has changed for women in the past 50 years, in large part thanks to access to birth control. Bloomberg Businessweek recently listed contraception as one of the most transformational developments in the business sector in the last 85 years, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named family planning, including access to modern contraception, one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more women can access birth control than ever before. Without insurance coverage, birth control pills can cost up to $600 a year, out of reach for many women already struggling.
A recent study published in Health Affairs found that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, women have saved $1.4 billion on birth control pills alone: Before the ACA went into effect, contraceptive costs accounted for between 30 percent and 44 percent of women’s total out-of-pocket health care costs.
This is an issue of access to health care, not religious liberty — and the majority of Americans agree. Ninety-three percent of female voters support access to birth control with no copay, and a majority of Catholics and Republicans women voters agree that corporations should provide its employees with health insurance that covers contraception.