Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Justice Sotomayor Temporarily Blocks Contraception Rule in Challenge By Religiously Affiliated Groups
The New York Times: Justice Blocks Contraception Mandate on Insurance in Suit by Nuns, by Steve Kenny & Robert Pear:
Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday temporarily blocked the Obama administration from forcing some religious-affiliated groups to provide health insurance coverage of birth control or face penalties as part of the Affordable Care Act.
Acting at the request of an order of nuns in Colorado, Justice Sotomayor issued the stay just hours before the requirement was to go into effect on New Year’s Day. She gave the Obama administration until Friday to respond to the Supreme Court. . . .
It's frustrating that this story repeats the claimants' assertion that they are being "forced" to "provide" contraceptive coverage. In fact, as the story later acknowledges, the nuns are allowed to opt out of the contraceptive coverage requirement simply by completing a form, in which case the insurer would provide coverage separately. But that isn't enough for the plaintiffs. According to their lawyer, "“The Sisters would also be required to sign a form that triggers the start of that coverage . . . . In good conscience, they cannot do that. So the ‘accommodation’ still violates their religious beliefs.” Under that logic, the salary they pay their employees could be seen to "trigger" all kinds of acts they disagree with -- including the out-of-pocket purchase of contraception if the health plan doesn't cover it. Employers who employ and serve a diverse population ought not to be able to impose their religious beliefs on their employees in this way.