At the Last Second, Supreme Court Blocks Affordable Care Act Contraception Mandate

When you consider that the Supreme Court has six Catholics on the bench, maybe this news isn’t too surprising: Justice Sonia Sotomayor, just before heading to Times Square to help drop the ball and ring in the new year, blocked the part of the Affordable Care Act that would have mandated certain religiously-affiliated organizations provide comprehensive health care to their employees.

Her ruling means that, for now, certain religiously-affiliated businesses will not have to provide health insurance that includes birth control to their workers. The government has until Friday to respond.

Here’s a little more information about what’s going on:

Tomorrow was supposed to be the first day when all businesses of a certain size had to provide comprehensive health care for its employees. Religious organizations — like churches — were exempt from that law. But what about groups that aren’t churches but still religious in nature, like Catholic hospitals and religion-based adoption agencies? The Obama administration offered a compromise so that those groups wouldn’t have to directly pay for things they oppose (like birth control) but would still provide employees with access to them… but religious groups balked. It wasn’t enough.

Recently, a bunch of Catholic organizations providing support for the poor and elderly argued that they, too, should be exempt from the law even though they weren’t a church. A U.S. District Court judge ruled over the weekend that they were already exempt, but the groups said they didn’t want to indirectly provide birth control via a third party, either. Their request for a stay on the ruling was denied by a federal appeals court earlier today, so they asked the Supreme Court to step in, and that’s what Justice Sotomayor did tonight.

Legal reasons notwithstanding, I can’t stress enough how awful this ruling is. If an organization that is supposed to help those less fortunate gets to avoid playing by the rules because of its religious nature, what’s going to stop courts from saying Christian-owned businesses like Hobby Lobby should be exempt as well? (The Hobby Lobby case is a separate one that will be heard by the Court this spring.)

Simply put, the religious exemptions that are already in the law are enough. Organizations that don’t have a strictly religious purpose should not be given a free pass from a law everyone else has to follow just because the leaders’ personal beliefs don’t allow for it. It’s bad policy, and worse ethics, to deny employees from having access to contraception (or blood transfusions, if the owner was a Jehovah’s Witness) just because the boss doesn’t like it.

Yet that’s what Justice Sotomayor’s last-second ruling allows. It’s only temporary but it would make for awful precedence if it stays that way. Remember: No one is forcing anybody to use birth control. The law only says employees should be allowed to have access to it. That’s what these Catholic groups are fighting against. They want total control over their employees’ bodies even if it harms them in the long run.

“We are delighted with the ruling,” said Mark L. Rienzi, a lawyer at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who represented the nuns in the lawsuit. “We are delighted that the Supreme Court will require the government to file briefs in the court on this matter.” The Little Sisters of the Poor operate nursing homes for low-income people in the United States and around the world.

Without Justice Sotomayor’s order, the nuns “would have been forced to comply with the contraceptive mandate on Wednesday or face large fines,” Mr. Rienzi said late Tuesday.

Yes, I’m sure the nuns were worried about having all that access to birth control…

It goes without saying that this argument by the Catholic groups doesn’t represent the 82% of Catholics who say using birth control is morally acceptable. It’s time for those Catholics to leave the Church. They need to stop supporting an organization so corrupt that it would deprive people — especially women — from making their own decisions about contraception.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Opinionated Catholic

    Its not that shocking . There is a split in the circuits on this issue and the Justice rides this circuit. They know SCOTUS will have to hear the case. Thus the reason for the stay

  • midnight rambler

    Yes, the court will hear the case. But a stay requires 1) likelihood of winning and 2) irreparable harm. Even if you grant the first (I don’t, but it’s possible), the harm done to the organizations suing is that they pay money for something they didn’t want to. That can be undone, by repaying them if they win. The harm that potentially comes to their employees is that they’re not able to afford something medically necessary, and that can’t be undone even if the mandate is upheld.

  • Opinionated Catholic

    Let me say in reality , and this is as someone that is against the HHS mandate , people don’t need to read too much into this becauses the fact the Court is putting a whole on the mandate and the rather heavy fines if one ignores it till they decide it

  • midnight rambler

    That still doesn’t address “irreparable harm” to the employers vs. the employees.

  • Opinionated Catholic

    I think the response is that Birth Control is relative cheap vs lets say a blood transfusion and the GOVT had other avenues to provide their goal of providing cheap free birth control . Such as expansion of Title X etc

  • midnight rambler

    Blood transfusions are also covered under this stay, by saying that the government cannot require coverage of any medicine that conflicts with an employer’s religious beliefs.

  • Opinionated Catholic

    Well I have looked far and wide for a case by a JW saying they don’t want to pay for blood transfusion. So far I can’t find any

    Regardless these are rather fact specific injunctions and I doubt they would apply to a rather hypo case. It very much deals with what was before the District and Circuit courts. Its not a Carte Blanche for religious employers on cases unrelated to the HHS Contraception mandate

  • Jeff

    Good point, but it also presents if one exemption for religious beliefs is given, what would prevent a litany of other requests?

  • UWIR

    Did they say that?

  • http://youtu.be/fCNvZqpa-7Q Kevin_of_Bangor

    ……

  • WallofSleep

    Ah, the 21st Century. We’ll get there someday.

  • Nancy Shrew

    Question: Has there ever been a healthcare-related dispute between companies and employees that had nothing to do with reproductive choices?

  • Opinionated Catholic

    Actually that is pretty common. From a religious standpoint look at the JW witness blood transfusion cases and what the employer in dispute employer might have to pay in benefits if the JW dies. I have to think from just a workers compensations standpoint the cases are limitless beyondreligious cases

  • diogeneslamp0

    Conservative Christians think no law applies to them and they can violate any law, any part of the Constitution, First Amendment, 14th Amendment, anything. The Christian lifestyle is Thug Life. Gangstas and scofflaws.

  • Opinionated Catholic

    It needs to be recalled that a good many of the Little Sisters of the Poor claims come under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The entire Affordable Care Act could have been exempted from the RFRA and in fact could be NOW still be exempted by Congress. The reason it was not was if it was the Affordable Care Act would likely had not passed. So we have this trying to do it through the back door.

    Regardless this was a rather predictable defense by the Sisters since it was right given by statute .

  • Spuddie

    No they do not.

    Their employees do. An employer is in a position of power which is recognized as capable of engaging in sectarian discriminatory practices. Ones which attack the religious freedom of employees, who would lack means of recourse. It binds employers. Forcing employees to adhere to an employer’s religious belief is what RFRA was designed to prevent.

  • regexp

    A group of nuns fighting a law they deem unfair within the constraints of the US Court system is somehow evidence of a “thug life”? Really?

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    A group of nuns fighting a law that directly benefits lots of people and does no harm, under the aegis of a corrupt institution known to harbor and protect pedophilic rapists, doing so because they think a mafia-boss God told them to, kinda is evidence of a “thug life”, yeah.

  • Opinionated Catholic

    Oh good grief. A a Christians Conservative Catholic that was a criminal defense attorney that had to battle the argument of association so many times ( well you know they are all guilty ) thank goodness that is not the LAW works. We don’t judge a person or a group by certain associations it had with people that failed or were unsavory

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    We do judge those that stick with a group that has been abusing children for a very long time. It’s not just the sexual abuse it is also things like the castrati and the workhouses were the women sent there were treated as slave labor. It is the physical abuse were children at catholic reform schools disappeared and were found buried on the premises decades later.

  • Guest

    I have never raped or imprisoned anyone as a Christian. But I’ve known atheists in the atheist movement who encourage women to shut up and justify rape against them. Should I judge all atheists for their women-hating, pro-raping beliefs?

    Let us not forget the founder of American Atheists was a lying, bigoted THIEF who was murdered by one of her own psychotic followers.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    Atheists are not and do not claim to have universal beliefs binding us all together. In general, atheists come right out and condemn any misogynistic comments and also any support for rape. On the flip side when said comments come out well known christian’s mouths you rarely hear people condemn the comments from your side. In fact very often those views are defended as being religious based.

    And want does the death of O’hare have anything to do with this discussion. She founded the group, yes, but it’s not like she is running it and it’s not like she is claim moral authority over atheists. Please show how she was a lying, bigoted, thief. Yes, she was murdered by someone that joined American Atheists, but I would hardly call him a follower.

  • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

    I have never raped or imprisoned anyone as a Christian.

    Liar! You are a rapist and a murderer. Prove that you’re not. I’m just using the oft “prove there is no god” argument that Xians use.

    But I’ve known atheists in the atheist movement who encourage women to shut up and justify rape against them.

    Since you are a rapist and murderer, of course you’d know those who justify rape.

    Should I judge all atheists for their women-hating, pro-raping beliefs?

    No, just judging you as a rapist and murderer.

    Let us not forget the founder of American Atheists was a lying, bigoted THIEF who was murdered by one of her own psychotic followers.

    Yeah, it takes a rapist and murderer like you to blame the victim of murder. Well done.

  • Jeff

    Um…yeah, we do. It is called conspiracy. It’s called deeming that group a “terrorist” organization (given as an example, not an accusation). So, please, the law DOES judge by association.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    Just being a member of a gang is enough to get you sent to prison in places. It is also enough to severely increase your sentence for a crime. The law absolutely judges your associations.

  • skeptical_inquirer

    I think it’s unfair that by their church not paying taxes, I’m subsidizing them and they’re threatening people’s health. Thug life . . . it’s definitely in the ballpark.

  • Mrquestion

    If you choose to run a business that hires from outside your own pool of beliefs, you’ve lost that right. Need help, get more nuns. Don’t hire from the outside and then force your ideology on them. By god’s own standard, you have “free will” ,you don’t get to intervene by other than the word of god. When this country was founded, the agreement was for religion to stay out of law and politics, and it got no taxes. Apparently we need to fix that.

  • Opinionated Catholic

    “If you choose to run a business that hires from outside your own pool of beliefs, you’ve lost that right.”

    That might be what you want the law to be but I think both sides say that up to this point its up to debate

  • Tyrrlin Flamestrike

    Oh, goody. Then you can go work for an orthodox Jewish boss who not only prohibits you from eating ANY pork products (whether or not you’re on the clock) but can demand that you not move a lightswitch on Saturdays. Sound fair?

    This is a similar (though not of the same scope) problem. I took birth control for medical reasons not having to do with preventing pregnancy. How DARE an employer tell me “well, I think you’re just being a slut, so I don’t want my insurance to pay for your pills.” I’m an employee, NOT a slave, and NOT a follower of their particular religion.

  • Spuddie

    No. Its called sectarian discrimination. Its illegal in all 50 states. Other examples of corporate religion could easily be:

    -Forcing all female employees to wear hijabs
    -Collection of paychecks is only done after attending Sunday Mass.
    -The office will be open on Christmas day, no exceptions, but closed on Diwali
    -The insurance plan will not cover insulin because it is derived from pigs.

    I can go on.

  • Spuddie

    Yes, because they are making decisions for people who did not ask them to do it.

  • regexp

    Its interesting to note that Justice Sonia Sotomayor did not issue a stay for the gay marriage issue in Utah but did issue a stay for this case.

  • Bill Santagata

    She hasn’t issued an order yet regarding the stay in the Utah gay marriage case. Utah filed its brief with her and the response is due Friday at noon (EST). Once she receives the reply brief, she could issue a ruling.

    More likely, she’ll refer the issue to the entire Court.

  • Spuddie

    More likely than not SCOTUS will punt on the Utah case and deny certiori. They have been desperately avoiding having to be in a situation where marriage laws are subject to questions of equal protection under the law.

    The DOMA case turned on an anti-federalism argument and avoided nationwide equal protection questions. Prop 8 case turned on prior California laws and stripping rights which existed before.

  • cyb pauli

    Sometimes people criticize my anti-theism. Religion makes people feel safe and happy, they tell me. How can religious beliefs hurt anyone? How can a Christian’s belief in squishy live and let live Jesus hurt me, an atheist? Why lump the fundamentalists in with all the oh so innocent liberals and moderates?

    Because of this. Because a secular employer is supposed to obey the laws set out to protect me but by the magic of religious prejudice, a Christian (or whatever) employer is exempt. This is not the only case in which legal exemptions are made for religious people, either explicitly or tacitly. It disgusts me. The common law that protects citizens comes first and must be applied equally. If contraception is not part of healthcare for the employees of religious organizations, how can it be claimed that it is essential to any other citizens?

  • Opinionated Catholic

    What we have is two laws in conflict and I am passing the pure First amendment claims. Again the RFRA is the core issues and the meat of most the claims opposing the HHS birth Control mandate . We have the RFRA on one side and the administrative law ( executive branch ) view of the Affordable care act on the other. Again CONGRESS could have exempted from the affordable care act from the RFRA and still can. But they did not. We have two “laws” in conflicts

  • http://empiricalpierce.wordpress.com/ EmpiricalPierce

    This ruling indicates that religious beliefs can grant you exemption from laws everyone else must follow. So where does it stop? If a business owner believes in prayer healing, can that person get an exemption to the ACA in its entirety? If a business owner says providing for workplace safety is against his religious beliefs, is he exempt from all OSHA laws?

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    There are no laws in conflict. No reasonable interpretation of the First Amendment allows for freedom of religious actions.

    Sotomayor is an intelligent, well educated jurist. Yet she produces a ruling here that is absolutely at odds with the First Amendment, a ruling that is absolutely unconstitutional. All we can take from this is the reality that theism and religion harm society, that they harm individuals, that they ruin otherwise rational minds.

    Sotomayor’s Catholicism makes her unqualified to be a Supreme Court justice, as evidenced by her inability to overcome the bias she clearly demonstrates in this ruling. A wise President would not nominate a theist to the court, anymore than they would nominate a racist. Someday that will be the norm, and a great day it will be.

  • Spuddie

    RFRA is not in conflict because it does not apply to acts of employers against employees. It is the very opposite of RFRA’s purpose, which is to shield the less powerful employees from the religious demands of their employers who wield control over their livelihood. RFRA calls for reasonable accomodation, Forcing employees to the will of the religious views of an employer is hardly accommodation.

    The religious views of an employer do not give a right to run roughshod over the religious views of the employees. Religious freedom is a shield, not a sword. Your right to religious expression ends where it harms the rights of others.

  • Stev84

    A company doesn’t have any “first amendment” rights whatsoever when it comes to religion. Just stop with this BS. Despite Citizens United, corporations are not people. They can’t have religious beliefs.

    The entire point in creating most forms of corporations is to create a distinct legal entity from the owner. Company owners don’t want to be personally liable for the company’s financial or legal troubles. So now they can’t just turn around and say that that the company shares their religious beliefs.

    Employees do have religious and other freedoms. Civilized countries (i.e. not the United States) also recognize that the employee/employer relationship is an inherently unequal one and give special protections to employees. They are workers, not slaves or serfs who are totally subjugated under the company. As such, their freedom takes precedence over the employer’s. At least when it comes to things that happen in their private life.

    A company can no more have a say on how an employee uses their health insurance than how they spend their money. By the same logic, companies could also demand that one’s salary isn’t spent on birth control or whatever else they happen to hate at the moment.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Shouldn’t she, as a Catholic (a member of the organization/network that is applying for this exemption) just RECUSE herself from giving a ruling on this case?

    Given that she is a member of an organization that tells her that her allegiance to their objectives carries dominion over her eternal soul (highest possible stakes, thus the highest possible conflict of interest), and she professes to believe this organization’s teachings, then how could she possible be impartial???

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    You’re overlooking the real problem. Her religion is a form of delusion, and the consequence of it is that she is prevented from acting rationally. The rational part of her brain knows she cannot rule on this matter without bias, and that she must recuse herself. But the delusional part is in control here. She does not even recognize her obligation to recuse herself. Her delusion prevents her from recognizing the gross conflict between her ruling and what she learned about the Constitution in her pre-law days.

    She is as unqualified for her position as Scalia or Thomas. Her brain is broken, and there is no obvious fix. Like most religionists, she is a victim of her upbringing. But in this case, we all become victims as well, in a very immediate way.

  • TCC

    Oh FFS, you are engaging in the most odious of armchair psychoanalysis, and it is complete bullshit. You cannot rationally make these statements; you simply do not have access to the information that would justify them, and that doesn’t mean you can just make shit up. It may very well be that Sotomayor only agreed to the preliminary injunction because the cases were already moving forward with SCOTUS and she wanted to allow them to continue on a neutral field (allowing the policy to go into effect would favor the Obama administration’s position, in all likelihood). But what you said? Complete nonsense.

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    She is a theist. She is a Catholic. By definition, she is delusional.

    That is not a good thing for someone in her powerful position.

  • TCC

    Calling religion a form of delusion does violence to the word. (And that doesn’t justify the large majority of your claims, anyway.)

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    How is it not delusional to believe in something in the absence of any evidence? That is the clinical definition of delusion. Look it up. The only thing that mars the formal definition is that religion was specifically exempted. That is evidence of bias and political correctness, not science, not reason. There is no reason to believe that we won’t see that obvious error corrected in the future.

    It only does violence to the word “delusion” to arbitrarily exempt religion from its definition.

  • TCC

    Even if I grant you that point – and I seriously don’t think you can equate the wishful thinking of most religious people with the very serious delusions of psychosis – none of the other claims you made can be justified. None. To claim someone’s brain is broken because they’re religious is to entirely misunderstand how brains work. It’s fucking ugly, honestly.

  • Guest

    Judging by the way you talk about theists and religious people in general, I’m glad you “suffer” from the religious-influenced laws in our country. It’s a reminder that what you think doesn’t matter, since you don’t really matter to the majority of people, including our government officials.

  • Carmelita Spats

    So majority rules? Bring back Jim Crow? It’s 1952…”Hi. You are African American. I’m glad you suffer from the racist influenced laws in our country. It’s a reminder that what you think about racial equality doesn’t matter, since you don’t really matter to the majority of white people in your podunk, pisswater, separate-but-equal, Screwyouland, including white government officials who have a HUGE problem with letting you vote. Have a nice day at your segregated lunch counter and please shower before using the community pool because black skin is icky. It’s in the rules voted on by the white majority.” Fuck off.

  • Guest

    Yes, majority rules. That’s why we have voting, fucktard. Take your displaced aggression towards white people somewhere else you bigoted, racist hypocritical fuck.

  • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

    Yes, majority rules.

    Not according to the U.S. Constitution and the rights of individuals to get redress from the government. No tyranny of the majority here.

    That’s why we have voting, fucktard.

    But not only voting. Courts and civil rights. No tyranny of the majority here.

    Take your displaced aggression towards white people somewhere else you bigoted, racist hypocritical fuck.

    Take your displaced aggression towards equality for ALL people, not just for your select few, somewhere else you bigoted, racist hypocritical fuck.

  • keddaw

    Maybe not tyranny of the majority, but certainly tyranny of the super-majority since they can pass Constitutional amendments that are binding on courts all the way up to SCOTUS, and later ones supersede earlier ones.

  • SeekerLancer

    Congratulations you have zero fundamental understanding of how a democratic republic functions.

  • Spuddie

    We have civil liberties to keep the self-interested majority from voting away the rights of minorities due to their stronger voting power.

    The framers of the constitution did not trust majority rule as a be-all and end all. They thought the majority of people were largely uninformed morons who could be easily led into voting their rights away in a panic if they were not careful (as how many dictatorships would form later on). They were clever enough to hardwire the system to prevent us from doing so by setting up a Bill of Rights.

    Research James Madison and the Tyranny of the Majority. and get back to us.

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    What everybody thinks matters.

  • Guest

    No, it doesn’t.

  • Sue (Yet, She Persisted) Blue

    Exactly! I suspected this kind of crap was going to hit the fan when the courts, a few years ago, began ruling in favor of pharmacists not filling prescriptions for birth control or morning-after pills because it “offended” their christian-y morals. I view these egregious “conscience” laws as the first step towards sweeping religious privileges, not for individuals, but for religiously-owned businesses and corporations. These judges seemed to think it perfectly acceptable to force a woman to travel miles out of her way to obtain perfectly legal contraception (or not be bale to get any at all), but it was just too awful to force a pharmacist to actually do his or her goddamned job.
    Then we have the issue of religiously-affiliated hospitals refusing to provide legal healthcare procedures for women because they violate said religion’s moral mandates. This has resulted in the severe duress for dozens of women right here in Washington State, where the Catholic and Lutheran churches now own more than 50% of the state’s hospitals. Women have even died for want of a medically-indicated abortion for ectopic pregnancy or fetal demise – but that’s apparently nothing compared to the need to not offend someone’s twisted, misogynistic religious ideals. What is the point of having state laws making abortion and death-with-dignity choices legal, when doctors, pharmacists, and hospitals can “choose” to ignore them?
    Furthermore, what is the point of a “mandate” when any business can just say “God” and ignore it? I wish I could get out of my some of my more onerous business and legal obligations so easily – but I’d be sent to prison, even though my not paying taxes on time or not showing up for jury duty or whatever is not going to fuck over millions of women and children or cause anyone’s death.

  • Cat’s Staff

    I think the church should be enforcing its rules in the church first, not the workplace. Next weekend every woman attending mass should have to pee in a cup and if there is evidence that she is using birth control, she should be excommunicated…lets see how many women stay home next weekend.

  • primenumbers

    And virginity tests before marriage too.

  • RN from NY

    There’s no such thing. Tampons/exercise/masturbation break hymens, not just sex.

  • primenumbers

    Of course, but logic and sense has never stopped them in the past – why should it now?

  • unbound55

    Lovely Catholic justices not thinking this through. So, does this mean that a business with a Jehovah Witness as CEO can deny pretty much all healthcare for his employees? The justices didn’t think about the possibilities of their rulings. This is an example of “religion poisons everything”.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    Jehovah’s Witnesses just are against blood transfusions. A Christian Scientist could deny pretty much all health care to hir employees, though.

  • Opinionated Catholic

    IS there a case when that happened and again it there was ( and my goodness I can’t find them ) we would have to go through the 3 prong strict scrutiny test which I bet they will fail

  • Spuddie

    That is the right you want to confer upon employers. It is merely illustrating the logical results of such thinking.

    Is there a case illustrating “corporate religious beliefs” is a legitimate concept? No.

    It flies in the face of the purpose of forming business entities (to keep personal property and responsibility separate from one’s business) and flies in the face of religious rights (that one can compel others to conform to their religious beliefs).

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    What is the legal difference between denying all health care for religious reasons and denying some health care for religious reasons?

  • MerchantMariner

    Reminds of the gag about the bloke hit by a bus. He’s lying there bleeding and moaning, the driver is busily phoning 000 for an ambulance, while some of the passengers give first aid. One of them finds his wallet and looks for some ID. He calls out the bloke’s name, and says he’s a Christian Scientist.

    “Bugger the ambulance”, says the driver to the 000 operator, “put me through to the nearest Reading Room.”

  • LadyAvon

    And then Scientology denying psychiatric treatment. There must be complete seperation of church and state in order to protect the freedoms of both.

  • skeptical_inquirer

    I’m wondering when they’ll start demanding to dictate what people can eat for lunch on their premises. If they keep insisting they can dictate what goes inside the body . . .

  • Opinionated Catholic

    I actually think the Justices are thinking this through . Gosh one thing the far right the far left secular and religious have in common is they have no idea how the court operates. I encounter this among my fellow religious conservatives. Is their an non believer with a law degree here

    Again with a split in the circuits this is very predicatable

  • unbound55

    I recommend reading the Supreme Court opinions of the past several years (just pick a few at random, ideally the ones with split votes). You’ll be surprised to find that the minority opinion in a number of decisions has substantially more thought than the majority opinion.

    Even historically, the Citizens United decision was clearly not thought through by the Supreme Court as we are all aware of the result of the dark money flowing strongly.

  • Rationalist1

    The exemption from the contraception mandate is like the provision that allows religious organizations to exempt themselves from the safeguards that are on pension plans. (see http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/25/us-retirement-churchplans-idUSTRE80O25I20120125). Employees at religious related organizations are finding that their pension plans maybe worthless because the religious related organization they worked for would rather claim religious exemption and save a few dollars than ensure their employees’s has a better chance of being solvent.

  • skeptical_inquirer

    I think that people should just not work for religious organizations unless they’re under the same regulations as secular organizations. Or at least made way more aware of how dangerous to their future it is up front. I’m half surprised they’re not allowed to feel people lead paint and nuclear waste.

  • Rationalist1

    In my early career I worked for a religious organization. When I started I was a faithful Catholic, when I left 10 years later I wasn’t. There were some good people there, but I saw some breaches of ethics that would put secular corporations to shame. I tell people I know not to work for a religious organization, unless they want to lose their faith.

  • Librepensadora

    What a dilemma. There should be no religious test for public office, but the fact that six of the Supreme Court justices are Catholic has become an issue with us freethinkers.

  • Bill

    Jealous much?

  • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

    How would you feel with six Muslims on the Supreme Court?

  • A3Kr0n

    How in the fuck is giving special status to religion constitutional?

  • Bill

    Because religious people built this country and they deserve it.

  • midnight rambler

    Nice try at deleting your posts and changing your name, Proteus. A sock by any other name…

  • Coel

    Simply put, the religious exemptions that are already in the law are enough. Organizations that don’t have a strictly religious purpose should not be given a free pass from a law everyone else has to follow just because the leaders’ personal beliefs don’t allow for it.

    More simply put, the religious exemptions that are already in the law are ALREADY TOO MUCH. Organizations EVEN IF THEY have a strictly religious purpose should not be given a free pass from a law everyone else has to follow just because the leaders’ personal beliefs don’t allow for it.

    Even more simply put, being religious does not entitle you to disregard a law that is there for a good secular purpose. Otherwise we’d have to allow sacrificing virgins at midnight full moon.

  • Miss_Beara

    Do us little feeble minded ladies need permission from our doctors to have BC covered if it isn’t used to control birth? And then have the pleasure of telling our bosses that we need it for PCOS, severe or irregular periods, etc like it is their business?

    I am sick and tired of Catholics think that they can push their views on our reproductive lives. Not everyone is a Catholic and Catholic women take birth control! But if they can’t do that, they scream religious persecution. Can you imagine if Muslims were forcing their views on non Muslims in this country? The right would explode, but somehow it is ok for them to do it to non Christians, even ones that do take BC.

  • scottrose

    I loathe the Catholic Church. It is the world’s single largest anti-gay hate group. Through a jackass Bishop on Malta, Pope Francis just issued another round of Church-linked anti-gay hate speech. The hatred against us is rooted in absolute idiocy like the Catechism, which, by the way, calls masturbation “an inherently and severely disordered act.” Where is the competent psychologist or psychiatrist who would agree with that stupidity? On the basis of similar anti-human idiocy, the Catholic Church worldwide wages war against my minority and our rights.

  • Miss_Beara

    Women and gays… But remember, the pope is liberal and moving the church in a new direction.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Looking, as I often do, for the pony hidden somewhere in the pile of horse shit, if the mandate for access to birth control is struck down, in the long run the positive effect will be what Hemant has said at the very end of his article:

    It’s time for those Catholics to leave the Church. They need to stop supporting an organization so corrupt that it would deprive people — especially women — from making their own decisions about contraception.

    If more and more religious organizations and religious owners of secular businesses refuse to give their employees what they want and need, those employees will eventually leave and go work for the competition. Many of them will also leave the religion as well, since it will become more obvious that it cares only about controlling them and cares not at all about helping them with their personal needs. They will see their religion is an impediment to them, not an asset.

  • keddaw

    I actually prefer the one where the government, seeing all the ACA becoming vulnerable to religious claims, finally does what it should have done in the first place and offer a single payer solution.

  • Some Guy Somewhere

    It baffles me why organizations get these religious freedoms over their employees. Organizations do not have minds, they do not have beliefs, they do not have faith. They do not have religion. The people that have these things are simply the people in charge of them, and they are pushing their religious inclinations on their employees who might not share the same beliefs. I do not understand why this point is never raised.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    I think the lesson from the entire health care “debate” (I use the term loosely and with apologies to those who engage in actual debating that involves evidence and reason) is that we are going to have to decouple health care from employment. That’s unfortunately. I had my best insurance working for nonprofits who provided good plans (and paid for it) but there are too man bossholes who think they get to impose their religion and/or politics on their employees for this to be anything but a constant battle for decades to come unless we separate work from medical access.

  • sailor

    Obamacare is a poor compromise geared to helping the health-care industry, and dumb religious claims are just part of the problem. If people want sensible healthcare without religious interference they need to insist on government run single payer. The idea of religious sects being able to refuse vaccinations and blood transfusions because of their beliefs is just as dumb as refusing contraception. I thought religious people were supposed to do the moral thing because of belief not because someone has control over them.

  • allein

    The problem is they are using a different definition of “moral.”

  • _7654_

    religious privilege … what a 2 words to start 2014 with.

  • Jane Williams

    Can anyone then for religious reasons refuse to pay 100% of
    their federal taxes as a large percentage goes to supporting killing people?

    Can anyone then for non-religious reasons refuse to pay 100%
    of their RE taxes as a percentage goes to support religious institutions?

    In the meantime, catholic women should withhold any dropping
    into the collection plate in order to pay for their birth control pills. Hit
    the church where it hurts.

  • paulalovescats

    A woman can still get birth control on a sliding scale at the health department. I’m not sure if there are as many accessible HDs as doctor offices, though. I would think. But I know that’s not the point of the post.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    They can get access to *some forms* of birth control on a sliding scale. The type I use is not generic and not pill-form, because that just wasn’t working for me. God forbid you use NuvaRing or patches or anything outside generic birth control pills or need a new IUD or new Norplant; then you can’t even get it through a health department office.

  • God’s Starship

    In a single payer system, you don’t have to worry about the religious beliefs of your boss or your employees. Something to think ahead as we continue to reform our healthcare system.

  • midnight rambler

    Unfortunately, you do have to worry about the religious beliefs of your Congress, which would mean no abortion coverage for anyone and potentially changing contraception coverage every few years.

  • JethroElfman

    Don’t get too excited, as Canada’s single-payer system doesn’t cover prescriptions at all. There’s lots of tinkering can be done with what’s covered, and where to set the deductable and co-pay. It’s too early to see whether the trend is to cut prices by moving towards mostly catastrophic coverage, or share-the-wealth by means of blanket coverage. It can go either way depending on who’s in power.

  • Lynn

    Maybe one day people will wake up! Realize they don’t want to be slaves anymore, giving their precious earned money, to a religious group not in their best interest.

  • JA

    “”Remember: No one is forcing anybody to use birth control. The law only says employees should be allowed to have access to it.””

    And that’s the issue the religious organizations have. Sure, they’re probably not providing it directly, but their employees still have access to it, which they don’t like.

  • Spuddie

    In other words they want to control the rights of others based on their religious beliefs. That is not how free exercise of religion works. You are not allowed to curtail the right of access to others based on one’s own belief.

  • Domush

    I’m starting a Naturalism religion, which says no people should interfere with natural processes, which means I should be able to deny all healthcare and you must shit in the woods, because indoor plumbing is against my religion. Fucking idiotic exemptions based on nothing more than pandering to the delusions of irrational people. Makes me want to scream.

    Will we live to see an end to such madness? I feel as though we’ve barely left the bloodletting era with these people. The fact our government is allowing religion to live above the law is absurd, and I cannot overstate how much of an understatement the word ‘absurd’ is in that context.

  • Malcolm McLean

    Well yes. It’s nonsense to pay workers in healthcare. In the early 19th century in Britain we had the “truck shop” system. Workers got vouchers which had to be redeemed at the company store. Which sold products made by the boss’s friends, at boss-agreed prices. It was a really bad system that distorted the economy and led to all sorts of abuses. It was gradually squeezed out, and now basically you have to pay workers in money.
    In America they haven’t seen the light. Insurance, pensions, and all the rest needs to be detached from the employer. Otherwise you get the General Motors debacle.

  • Proteus

    Sometimes I wonder why so many Boricua aka Puerto Ricans theists don’t give a crap about church and state separation. Here in Puerto Rico it’s even mentioned on the freaking constitution. Do they care? Nope.

  • Sapphire Possible

    Give it time. Backlash enforces the signing hand.

  • Bill

    Another win for the good guys!

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ trivialknot

    After speaking with a lawyer friend, I think this article exaggerates the importance of the decision. SCOTUS did not decide on the merits of the case. They just delayed the ACA’s requirement until they have the time to consider the case on its merits. This is bad news because it means SCOTUS thinks there’s a possibility that they’ll rule against the ACA requirement. But I do not think it sets precedence, since it was not decided on the merits.

  • RN from NY

    I officially hate this country! So now an employee has to go to her boss, explain her endometriosis or whatever reproductive condition she has, and BEG that her medication be covered under INSURANCE? Unreal. So much for medical privacy.

  • Bill

    If you hate it so much then leave. No one is asking you to stay lol

  • RN from NY

    I would love to. I’ve been trying for years. It’s not that easy to get a job in another country. Visas are only granted in high-need areas.
    Until then, I will keep voting for the democrats and hope people start using their brains for a change.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ WMDKitty — Survivor

    Uh, Catholic judges. Conflict of interest, much?

  • Paul D

    Some religions condone slavery or killing blasphemers and non-believers. While owning slaves or killing people is illegal, shouldn’t those pesky laws be removed for those practicing their religious beliefs?

  • JethroElfman

    Isn’t the hyperbole a little strong here? No one’s denying people access to contraception, just making them go pay for it themselves. For many of these workers, it’s never been covered, so it’s not like it’s being taken away from them either.

  • Sue (Yet, She Persisted) Blue

    So, you’re a member of a low-income family who’s barely able to pay the rent and put food on the table, and you can’t afford contraception because your insurance won’t cover it (it does, however, cover Viagra so your husband/boyfriend can get an oh-so-essential boner). Or you’re a low-income woman with PCOS or another hormone imbalance that seriously impacts your life, but you can’t afford the hormone pills because they’ve been labeled “birth control” and your insurance won’t cover them just in case you’re taking them just to have sex. So your choices are: Have children you also can’t afford or just don’t have sex; or just shut up and suffer the discomfort and disability associated with your hormone imbalance and hope it doesn’t become so bad you can’t work. Oh, and if you get raped by your husband, boyfriend or whatever, just suck it up, trot right out and buy the morning-after pill out of your grocery money. Pregnancy and childbirth can cost thousands of dollars even with insurance, so tell me why these businesses have no trouble with insurance covering these benefits, while covering contraceptives at a fraction of the cost is just beyond the pale? Is denying women the right to have sex, obtain relief for suffering, and control their own bodies just something us needy sluts should just put up with because it’s no big deal?

  • eric

    A U.S. District Court judge ruled over the weekend that they were already exempt, but the groups said they didn’t want to indirectly provide birth control via a third party, either.

    IANAL but why isn’t this fairly cut and dried (against the religious organizations)? Our whole system of federal, state, and local taxes is based on the concept that it is perfectly legal for the government to indirectly use your money for things you don’t agree with.

  • http://www.scribd.com/johnboy_philothea John Sobert Sylvest

    Regarding such as the contraception mandate of the affordable care act, while, undeniably, religious freedom has always entailed matters of both faith and worship as well as morality and justice, in practice, only matters of faith and worship have been treated, under the constitution, as pretty much inviolable, whether regarding free exercise or nonestablishment. This is to recognize that government must not encroach on our relationship with God and
    ultimate reality. However, on matters of morality and justice, which involve our relationships with one another and which rely — not on special revelation, but — on judgments regarding realities that are transparent to human reason, the prerogatives of religious practitioners have often been curtailed by government, especially when the scientific evidence is hard and the compelling nature of the moral reality is fast in its impact on the common good and the public welfare. So, especially
    regarding matters of health and education, for example, government coercion has often prescribed compulsory solutions that disallow religious exceptions, whether involving vaccinations and blood transfusions or mandatory schooling and textbooks. It is truly disingenuous to characterize the contraception mandate as an essentially religious incursion, much less marginalization of religious influence, when its efficacies are so well known and its use so widespread by the
    coreligionists of the very cohort that is protesting the most vehemently.

  • Kenny Kenzilla Nipp

    6 Catholics on the SCOTUS. Did you think the outcome would be different? The 1st amendment guarantees churches may run their religion as they see fit, but it doesn’t protect them from business dealings and or work and job safety rules. If you pay someone to work in a church, you are conducting a business transaction and it is not protected under the 1st amendment. Health insurance is part of the pay or benefit, so no, you may not exclude certain healthcare benefits due to your church doctrine.