The U.S. Supreme Court sided with business owners with religious objections and against the Obama administration on Monday in the closely watched ruling on the coverage of contraceptives under the Universal Employee Health Insurance program.
The court said that it was not shown that the mandate is the least restrictive means of guaranteeing cost-free access to birth control.
At the center of the debate and the Supreme Court case was the 600 chain store, Hobby Lobby. That chain store, with its 15,000 employees took the case to the highest court in the land in opposition to the birth control provision.
In the 5-4 decision, it was pointed out that the decision only applies to the birth control mandate and doesn’t support other claims against other insurance requirements such as vaccinations and blood transfusions.
The majority in the decision were Justices Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas. In dissention to the decision were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomeyer, Stephan Breyer, and Elena Kagan.
It was determined that employees have other accommodations available to them through the health program for contraception without involving employers.
The White House said of the court’s decision, “Today’s decision jeopardizes the health of women who are employed by these companies. As millions of women know firsthand, contraception is often vital to their health and wellbeing. That’s why the Affordable Care Act ensures that women have coverage for contraceptive care, along with other preventative care like vaccines and cancer screenings.We will work with Congress to make sure that any women affected by this decision will still have the same coverage of vital health services as everyone else.”
Alaska’s Senator Mark Begich said of the decision on Monday, “I disagree with today’s Supreme Court decision. Bosses should not be able to prevent access to family planning and birth control for Alaska women. This is unacceptable. As Alaskans, we don’t want the government intruding into our lives and telling us how to make personal decisions. Ninety-nine percent of women will use contraceptives at some point in their lives and this decision shows how out of touch the Supreme Court is with Alaskans,” said Begich. “A woman’s health care decisions should be between herself and in consultation with her doctor. I will continue to fight to protect all Alaskans’ right to privacy and that includes a women’s right to make her own health care decisions.”
Alaska’s Representative to Washington, Don Young praised the court decision calling it a win for religious freedom.