ACLU: Supreme Court discriminates against women with Hobby Lobby decision

 

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s decision to reject ObamaCare’s contraception mandate is discriminatory toward women, an official with the American Civil Liberties Union said Monday.

Louise Melling, the ACLU’s deputy legal director, said Alito went “out of his way” in his majority opinion to rule for something that specifically impacts women.

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“Somehow the question of contraception is different from other forms of discrimination," Melling said. “Somehow the question of contraception is different from other forms of health care. We've seen that playbook before.”

Melling joined the leaders of other pro-abortion rights groups in decrying the Supreme Court’s decision Monday that closely held companies cannot be forced to provide birth control if they object on religious grounds.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, said the ruling sets a “dangerous new precedent” and “women will pay the price.”

She argued it was “not a coincidence” that all three women on the Supreme Court voted against the ruling. The three women justices are all on the liberal side of the court.

In the 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled the contraceptive provision of the Affordable Care Act cannot force companies to offer insurance for certain forms of birth control they consider abortion.

The court said it violated the free exercise clause and 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which maintains a person should be able to exercise their religion without substantial government burden.

A majority of Americans, 61 percent, supported the health care law's requirement that the full cost of birth control be covered by private health insurance for those who have it, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released in April. Fewer, 55 percent, supported forcing for-profit companies to provide birth control if it violated their religious beliefs.

Supporters of the ruling contend it only applies to family-owned corporations. Owners of the two companies that challenged the health law's contraceptive mandate — Hobby Lobby, a craft store chain, and Conestoga Woods Specialties, a Pennsylvania-based cabinetmaker — objected on religious grounds to providing insurance for some of the mandate’s contraceptives.

Josh Hawley, senior counsel to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represented Hobby Lobby, told The Hill that Hobby Lobby employees have access to 16 of the 20 FDA-approved birth control options, and the government can provide the other four forms at no cost to employees.

“I think the court went out of it's way to say that were there would be no burden to employees,” said Hawley, who's also an associate professor of law at the University of Missouri.

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