Today, the Supreme Court ruled against free and comprehensive access to birth control under the Affordable Care Act, a long-term project of the Religious Right and a decision that will immediately prevent hundreds of thousands of women from accessing free reproductive care. The decision upholds a Trump Administration rule that significantly weakens Obama-era regulations—regulations intended to act as a compromise between opposing sides by providing specific carve-outs for churches and religious organizations. Any attempt at common ground was obliterated with today’s ruling.
Those ACA rules previously allowed women to have sex without having children, more or less for free. In its decision today, the court held that allowing companies to decline to offer employees birth control on either religious or moral grounds was a reasonable separation of church and state.
Under the Affordable Care Act, churches and synagogues were exempt from providing free contraceptives to their employees should they disagree with birth control on religious grounds, an accommodation for which we largely have Joe Biden to thank. Non-profits, universities, and other religious organizations, while not automatically excused, were allowed to individually opt-out of the program and place the burden of providing reproductive healthcare on an insurance administrator, a practice some claimed was tantamount to endorsing the use of contraceptives itself.
This decision closes the loop on a long-standing argument between health advocates and the Religious Right, most famously embodied when craft store Hobby Lobby became the first for-profit corporation to be recognized for its religious standing and fought to exempt itself from the contraceptive mandate.
In her dissent, Justice Ruth Ginsberg noted that between 70,500 and 126,400 women would “immediately lose access to no-cost contraceptive services.”