On religious grounds, a consortium of Roman Catholic (including the Colorado-based order of nuns called “the Little Sisters of the Poor) and other religious groups have demanded a full exemption to the Affordable Care Act (ACA–also called “Obamacare”) provision mandating employers to provide health insurance coverage that includes contraception and birth control.

Religious Rights Argument:

  • The religious opponents of this provision have taken the case to the Supreme Court of the United States, where it is currently being heard and considered.
  • If the opponents of this ACA provision win, organizations of all kinds will be able to opt out of providing birth control in their health insurance plans on religious grounds.
  • In a sense, the Catholic Church and religious groups that share their position have put access to birth control on trial.

A Form of Abortion:

  • The Christian groups, who often see birth control as a form of abortion, object to the practice of birth control on principle.
  • Those with the strongest religious objection strenuously objected to an administration attempt to compromise.
  • In 2013, the Obama administration offered legislation that would allow religious groups to opt out of that part of health insurance that would cover birth control.
  • The government would ask the insurance companies to pay for that part of the coverage.
  • This was unacceptable to religious conservatives because the religious organizations would still have to authorize birth control coverage, even if they didn’t pay for it.

The Likely Ruling:

  • In the present four-justice Supreme Court, without the late Justice Anton Scalia is balanced for and against abortion legislation.
  • The ruling, due by the end of June, 2016 is expected to be split down the middle.
  • This would leave the ruling of the lower courts favoring the original legal compromise still standing.

In an ongoing standoff between fundamentalist religious organizations and the Affordable Care Act, the provisions of the ACA requiring coverage for birth control devices has been challenged all the way up to the Supreme Court. The decision has not yet been rendered by the court. However, with the current conservative-liberal balance among the  justices, the ruling is expected to allow the lower court decision to stand.