Yesterday, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that “requiring family-owned corporations to pay for insurance coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act violated a federal law protecting religious freedom.” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. conceded that the government does have a “compelling interest in making sure women have access to contraception,” but that there are ways of providing that access without “violating the companies’ religious rights.”

Justice Ginsburg’s dissent put into words what many onlookers felt. Justice Ginsburg stated that requiring contraception coverage is vital to women’s health and reproductive freedom. Furthermore, Justice Ginsburg stated this may invite “for-profit entities to seek religious-based exemptions from regulations they deem offensive to their faiths,” including some medical procedures and drugs, vaccinations, and even blood transfusions—procedures which certain religions denounce. While there is no evidence yet to support this claim that corporations will begin splitting hairs over other medical procedures, it does raise important questions about where the line is drawn between business and religion.

Those who disagree with the Supreme Court decision state that requiring all insurance plans to include coverage for contraception improves not only public health, but also ensures that “women have equal access to health care services.” Therefore, this blow was particularly shocking. If other family-owned corporations follow this ruling, the cost for contraception coverage will likely become a barrier for many women. IUD’s, for instance, can coast more than $1,000 once medical exams, insertion, and follow-up visits are added—and it is likely that this may cost too much for some women to pay without insurance coverage.

While the full repercussions of this decision are not yet clear, it is important to develop protective measures that defend women’s healthcare and their access to a range of contraception options.

Source: The New York Times

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