Monday, March 28, 2016


"Supreme Court hears birth control battle brought by religious nonprofits" PBS NewsHour 3/23/2016


SUMMARY:  The Supreme Court heard its fourth challenge to the Affordable Care Act, this one from religious nonprofits demanding exemption from the requirement to provide insurance coverage for birth control, claiming the mandate violates federal laws protecting religious freedoms.  Gwen Ifill talks to Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal for more details on the case.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  But, first, we turn to the Supreme Court, where the clash between religious freedom and women’s access to birth control played out once again today.

PROTESTERS:  Hands off my birth control!

GWEN IFILL:  Today marked the fourth time the high court has heard a challenge to the president’s signature health care law.

At the center of today’s case, the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate.  Just two years ago, arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby challenged that mandate, and won.  Justices ruled that family-owned companies run on religious principles could refuse to pay for their employees’ birth control.

Today’s case shifted the focus from private companies to the potential burden for religious nonprofits.  The challenge comes in part from an order of nuns, the Little Sisters of the Poor.  Along with six other plaintiffs, they argue the law forces them to either violate their beliefs or pay a substantial fine.

MOTHER LORAINE MAGUIRE, Little Sisters of the Poor:  We find ourselves in a situation where the government is requiring us to make changes in our health care, our religious health care plan to include services that really violate our deepest-held religious beliefs as Little Sisters.

GWEN IFILL:  The National Women’s Law Center sided with the Obama administration, saying coverage alternatives for these groups already exist.

GRETCHEN BORCHELT, National Women’s Law Center:  Women deserve insurance coverage for birth control no matter where they work.  These employers want to take that benefit away from their employees.  The alternatives that they proposed in court today are unworkable and, frankly, insulting.

GWEN IFILL:  A ruling is expected by June.

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