Supreme Court Says Employers May Deny Birth Control Coverage Over Religious Objections

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld rules issued by the Trump administration that allow employers with religious or moral objections to deny women access to free birth control coverage.

The court’s 7-2 vote struck a blow against the birth control mandate, a hotly litigated regulation under the Affordable Care Act that requires most private health insurance plans to cover contraceptives without a copay.

Under the judgment, between 70,500 and 126,400 women could lose access to no-cost birth control, according to government estimates.

At issue in Trump v. Pennsylvania, consolidated with Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, were new rules established by the Trump administration that vastly expanded the types of organizations that could opt out of the mandate based on religious beliefs or moral objections.

The states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey challenged the rules, arguing that they would have to cover the cost of birth control for people who lost coverage.

Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the opinion, said that the Trump administration “had the authority to provide exemptions from the regulatory contraceptive requirements for employers with religious and conscientious objections.” He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer filed a separate opinion concurring in the judgment.

Oral arguments were presented in May via teleconference ― one of the first times in history for the court ― due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was the third time that the birth control mandate reached the Supreme Court, but the first since Gorsuch and Kavanaugh ― appointed by President Donald Trump ― joined the bench.

Wednesday’s decision sent the case back to a lower court. Further attempts to block the Trump rules may soon follow.

In a statement, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who challenged the Trump rules, said he was...

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