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Should for-profit business owners have to provide employees with birth control as part of the insurance plans?

Obama’s HHS Contraceptive Mandate, part of the Affordable Care Act, requires that all for-profit businesses with over 50 employees must provide employees with birth control as part of the insurance package. Certain non-profits and all religious institutions are exempt and female employees can receive birth control at no cost from a third party organization. The HHS mandate is being contested in court as a possible violation of religious freedom.

The Gilardi brothers, Catholic owners of Freshway Foods, do not believe in birth control and feel that the mandate violates their religious freedom by forcing them to provide it to their employees or opt out and pay an exorbitant $14 million fine. There are 39 court cases around the country by for-profit companies attacking the mandate as a violation of their First Amendment rights. The Gilardis won in a 2-1 decision and struck down HHS.

The Obama administration had hoped the mandate would increase gender equality and those who are against the decision believe that the employees of a company should not be affected by their employer’s beliefs. Essentially, the health of female employees should not be determined by their employer’s religion. Birth control has also been shown to be financially favorable on a national scale as demonstrated by California’s FamilyPACT which provides all forms of birth control to Californian women for free but saves the state a lot of money overall.

Those who favor the ruling believe that the large fine the Gilardi brothers would have to pay is a burden on their religious freedom and lawyer E.L. White says “the company is an extension of their religious beliefs.”

Because there is so much conflict regarding the decision, the Obama administration has asked the Supreme Court to set a precedent with a Denver court case. We are all looking forward to this case soon.

Think About:

1. Should owners have to abide by the HHS Contraceptive Mandate in the Affordable Care Act?
2. Does the mandate violate religious freedom? Whose religious freedom does it violate?
3. What are the different laws for-profit companies vs. non-profit companies?
4. What will the Supreme Court’s ruling be?

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