Supreme Court Chips Away at Contraceptive Coverage for Employees

Jun. 30, 2014
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It’s not totally surprising, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to allow closely held corporations with religious objections to refuse to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees, as required by the Affordable Care Act. 

The details of the decision are just being filled in—go to for their reaction to this decision and the new one on collective bargaining rights for semi-public sector workers—but it seems only to apply to “closely held” corporations, ones owned by one family, apparently.

The conservative justices were joined by Justice Kennedy. The female justices and Justice Breyer dissented.

Here’s an early reaction from the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health:

Statement on Supreme Court Decision on ACA Contraceptive Coverage

Madison– In response today’s decision by the Supreme Court to uphold Contraceptive Coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health Executive Director, Sara Finger, released the following statement:

The Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health is immensely disheartened that the Supreme Court ruled against patients’ rights and an employees’ religious liberty today. Today’s decision puts the personal opinions of bosses above the health care needs of women and we are committed to ensuring the people who would impose their personal beliefs on others are held accountable.

This recent case relating to the Affordable Care Act, argued that bosses had a right to dictate the type of care and coverage a female employee would receive and could deny women access to affordable birth control and sadly the Supreme Court ruled in their favor.

Bosses should not be able to interfere with a woman’s access to affordable birth control.  We believe health care decisions should be made between a woman and her doctor and a woman’s boss should not be able to take away the insurance she’s entitled to by law because the boss doesn’t like it.


Women will face more barriers to basic health care. Ninety-nine percent of women will use contraception at some point in our lives, whether for family planning or other medical reasons like treating endometriosis. In Wisconsin over 542,000 women have already benefited from the expanded access to preventive services, including birth control because of the Affordable Care Act.   Today’s Supreme Court decision ensures that these and millions of other women across this country will now face additional barriers to accessing the basic health care they need and deserve.


Americans support insurance coverage.  Seventy percent of Americans believe that women should be able to make decisions about reproductive-health care without interference from out-of-touch politicians or our bosses.  And new polls show that with nearly two-to-one margin, people support the requirement in the Affordable Care Act that insurance companies cover birth control.


What else will bosses chose to deny their employees? While this specific case is about contraception, a finding that bosses can get out of the law to impose their religious beliefs on their employees could have limitless consequences by emboldening religious objections to vaccines, blood transfusions, treatment for HIV/AIDS, etc. Bosses could attempt to extend their reach beyond the boardroom and into the bedrooms of their employees.


We’re going to make sure that the people who would impose their personal beliefs on others are held accountable, that bosses’ extreme views are exposed, and that the law protects our rights as women to decide when, how, and with whom we start our families.



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