"Lutera (Birth Control Pills)" by ParentingPatch / CC BY-SA 3.0

Supreme Court says employers may opt out of Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate over religious, moral objections

Jul 8, 2020

By Robert Barnes

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the Trump administration may allow employers and universities to opt out of the Affordable Care Act requirement to provide contraceptive care because of religious or moral objections.

The issue has been at the heart of an intense legal battle for nine years, first with the Obama administration sparring with religious organizations who said offering contraceptive care to their employees violated their beliefs, and then with the Trump administration broadening the Obama administration’s exemption, angering women’s groups, health organizations and Democratic-led states.

Wednesday’s decision greatly expands the ability of employers to claim the exemption, and the government estimates that it could mean that 70,000 to 126,000 women could lose access to cost-free birth control.

“We hold that the [administration] had the authority to provide exemptions from the regulatory contraceptive requirements for employers with religious and conscientious objections,” wrote Justice Clarence Thomas, who was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh.

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