Dem women predict birth control mandate will stand

Democratic women lawmakers on Wednesday said they are confident the Supreme Court would uphold an ObamaCare mandate that requires most employers to cover birth control in their insurance plans.

“The healthcare decisions should be made by the employees, not by someone who is running a for-profit company that’s not a religious institution,” Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said. “I think that’s what the Supreme Court is going to decide.”

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The Supreme Court last week agreed to hear a challenge to the mandate brought by two private companies that argue the federal government couldn’t order businesses to pay for contraception coverage that goes against the owners’ religious beliefs.
 
In a conference call with reporters, DeGette; Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.); Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.); and Marcia Greenberger, the co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, said they couldn’t see a scenario where the high court strikes down the mandate.

Schakowsky said it “would be a very slippery slope” for the Supreme Court to rule against the requirement because it would allow employers “to pick and choose which laws to enforce.”

“I am hopeful the Supreme Court will decide in our favor that employees have the right to choose,” she said.

Boxer also took up the “slippery slope” argument, saying that if employers could prevent women from having free access to birth control, they could also tell employees they’re not allowed to seek out medical assistance of any kind, forcing them to “pray their way to health,” if that’s what the owner’s religious belief required.

“If this court really is what it claims to be … they will let the individual employees decide, and not their bosses,” Boxer said.

Democrats put the mandate into the healthcare law to ensure that most workingwomen have access to free birth control in their healthcare plans.
 
Churches and houses of worship are exempt from the requirement, and employees of religiously affiliated institutions, such as Catholic schools, will receive birth control coverage directly from their insurers.

But conservatives say the “accommodation” for religious institutions does not go far enough and want the mandate struck down on First Amendment grounds.
 
Hobby Lobby, a Christian-owned chain of arts and craft stores, and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., a cabinet company owned by Mennonites, argue that the law should prevent them from having to offer their employees contraception as part of their health insurance coverage.
 
Greenberger said the companies forfeited their rights to claim religious exemptions by organizing as for-profit companies.

“If the Supreme Court follows its precedents, its former cases, I am very confident that the contraceptive coverage benefit will be available to women working at these for-profit corporations,” Greenberger said.