The Supreme Court of the United States says companies do not have to pay for their employees’ birth control, as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. In a 5-4 decision issued Monday morning, the court ruled that the government failed to show that the mandate is the least restrictive way to provide cost-free access to birth control and that the government can pay for this coverage itself. the ruling applies only to birth control, and not to other insurance mandates, like blood transfusions or vaccinations, an important distinction.
The court also made it clear that the ruling does not allow for illegal discrimination cloaked as religious belief.
The challenges to the mandate were brought by Lancaster County’s Conestoga Wood Specialties, as well as Hobby Lobby Stores.
Conestoga Wood Specialties
The decision is also a win for a Lancaster County Company. Although it didn’t get as much attention, Conestoga Wood Specialties was the other company fighting for this decision.
For the owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties the ruling is something they have waited more than a year for. “Suddenly everybody burst out in applause. There were thank you lords and eventually everyone just went into prayer. I mean they have been carrying around this burden for a year and a half now, saying what do we do in the way that we run our business because we are Lancaster County Mennonites after all, we have certain beliefs.” said Randall Wenger, Chief Counsel with Independence Law Center. Wenger represented the East Earl Township business owners. “Contraception is not against their religion. It’s drugs that can result in the death of a new human life,” said Wenger.
The ruling means the company will avoid fines of $100 per worker per day. The company’s workers will have to pay out-of-pocket for the morning-after pill or other emergency contraception until the government offers an alternative.
“If the government can tell us to violate our most deeply held convictions, there’s no stopping what the government can do. So if we like liberty, if we like freedom, we should like a decision like this,” said Wenger.