Marielle Genovesi, Contributing Writer
Last year President Barack Obama’s health care reform, “The Affordable Care Act” commonly known as “Obamacare,” was ruled constitutional by Congress. Nevertheless, differences over the birth control provision in the law have yet to be resolved. It seems that multiple legal disputes over religious freedom and the birth control coverage requirement in Obama’s revamped health care plan are headed towards the U.S. Supreme Court.
In an outburst of lawsuits, religious groups as well as religious-affiliated institutions and universities were insisting that the government is requiring them, through this reform of healthcare, to violate core tenets of their faith. Lawsuits are filed almost weekly.
The Affordable Care Act mandates that employers, as well as faith-affiliated hospitals, must provide insurance that includes free contraception and various other health care services for their employees. This includes free coverage of mammograms, screenings for cervical cancer, pre-natal care and artificial contraception. According to the “Health and Human Services Department,” the law does provide an exemption for “religious employers” which means their purpose is to instill religious values, usually employing or instructing those who share their religious beliefs. This exception cannot apply to many religious institutions that instruct those of many faiths, and whose purpose is broader than just that of religious education (such as universities).
The Obama administration has offered a compromise in which insurers would bear the cost of birth control, instead of religious employers. But Roman Catholic Bishops say this is not enough to protect religious liberty. Those who defend the provision have stated that employers should not impart their religious beliefs and views on their employees, especially when something like health care is in view. Those who are opposed to the Affordable Care Act, due to their beliefs, also testify that it breaches their second amendment rights, which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
However, those who support the mandate rationalize that although protecting the religious liberties of the people is important, obstructing or attempting to halt a plan that intends to serve all the people is a violation of everyone’s rights. General consensus among those who do support the Affordable Care Act has been that regardless of who pays, or who provides it, contraceptive services should be a part of any health care plan.
Contraception choices and religious views have always been issues that have bumped heads with each other, but the battlefield has clearly been amped up since the institution of this overhauled health care plan. Questions asked are: can it be an issue easily solved, and when it does reach The Supreme Court will judges truly remain unbiased in their decision? It seems that it may be an issue to split in its rationalizations, justice in terms of religion, or justice for women who need the choice?