Some American corporation-people (and religious non-profits!) believe that their sincere God-related prudery trumps women's right to affordable contraception. The Supreme Court agrees with them. And so the White House has been forced to make two major changes to the Affordable Care Act contraception mandate in order to accommodate these religious beliefs.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court very shittily ruled that "closely-held" for-profits corporations do not have to provide women with contraception coverage if they reeeaaaaally don't want to. Not long after that, six justices signed an injunction allowing Wheaton College, a religious university, not to comply with a provision of the contraception mandate that would allow the institution to opt out of directly providing contraception coverage to its employees.
Today, the White House has just come out with a plan to help women navigate these new roadblocks. Firstly, the accommodation originally extended to religious nonprofits will also apply to closely-held for-profit corporations with "sincere religious beliefs," like Hobby Lobby. As Irin Carmon explains at MSNBC:
With today's regulations, employees of for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby will be able to access an "accommodation" where the insurer directly provides the cost-free coverage with no financial involvement by the employer. That accommodation was originally limited to religiously-affiliated nonprofits like Little Sisters of the Poor; houses of worship are fully exempt.
Some religious non-profits have taken issue with this specific accommodation, although it was originally intended for them. The second change announced today will attempt to provide a solution to that.
The non-profits with objections to the accommodation have argued that the very act of filling out a form to opt out of providing contraception coverage still violates their religious beliefs. That's because, by formally opting out, they're tacitly permitting someone to help women afford contraception, and God is not down with that. In response, the White House has come out with an accommodation to the accommodation: non-profits with objections to the opt-out form can now notify the federal government directly that they do not want to provide contraception coverage, and the government will inform insurers that they need to provide separate contraception coverage for the business's employees.
"Women across the country deserve access to recommended preventive services that are important to their health, no matter where they work," Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a statement. "Today's announcement reinforces our commitment to providing women with access to coverage for contraception, while respecting religious considerations raised by non-profit organizations and closely held for-profit companies." Of course, it's wildly unlikely that the zealots who have opposed contraception for this long will be appeased by these changes.
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