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Little Sisters of the Poor win at Supreme Court against contraception mandate

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In a 7-2 ruling on July 8, The Supreme Court of the United States upheld rules allowing employers to opt out of paying for birth control in their health care plans based on their religious beliefs. In the decision of Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania, Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the majority opinion which Justices John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh joined. Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer concurred while Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

The Affordable Care Act of 2010 (commonly referred to as ObamaCare) required employers to provide “preventive care” without “any cost sharing requirements” but, said Thomas, failed to specify what was meant by “preventive care.” Guidelines stated that health care plans must provide coverage for all FDA approved contraception. However, the Trump Administration later allowed for exemptions to the mandated contraception coverage for employers if those employers held moral or religious objections.

“By its terms, the ACA leaves the Guidelines’ content to the exclusive discretion of HRSA [Health Resources and Services Administration],” wrote Thomas. “Under a plain reading of the statute, then, we conclude that the ACA gives HRSA broad discretion to define preventive care and screenings and to create the religious and moral exemptions.” Read more

former vice president Joe Biden pledged on Wednesday to reinstate Obama-era policies that would require the Little Sisters of the Poor to ensure access to birth control and abortifacients for employees in violation of their religious beliefs.

Biden, who is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, made the promise July 8, following the Supreme Court decision in favor of the Little Sisters of the Poor in the case Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, which upheld an exemption for the sisters from the “contraception mandate” which obliges employers to provide for contraceptive coverage for employees through their health care plans.

“If I am elected I will restore the Obama-Biden policy that existed before the [Supreme Court’s 2014] Hobby Lobby ruling: providing an exemption for houses of worship and an accommodation for nonprofit organizations with religious missions,” said Biden in a statement released by his campaign.  Read more


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