Hobby Lobby Wins: Religious Employers Can Now Deny You Birth Control Coverage

In what has become a sadly commonplace, 5/4 split decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that for profit corporations have the right to refuse to cover hormonal birth control, long acting reversible birth control and sterilization in their insurance plans. As usual, Justice Anthony Kennedy joined with the conservative justices to form a majority, with the ruling announced by Justice Antonin Scalia.

The case revolves around a number of misconceptions, such as the idea that hormonal birth control, IUDs or emergency contraception prevent fertilized eggs from implanting (they don’t) and that, even if they did, that such a thing is an abortion, since a pregnancy can’t technically begin until an egg is implanted and begins releasing the hormone that can be detected by blood work or a test (ask any person undergoing IVF if their fertilized eggs waiting to be implanted means they are “pregnant” and they will give you a resounding and heartbreaking “no.”)

If there is any doubt that the decision is codifying gender based discrimination, that doubt is dismissed by the court’s ruling that the “religious freedom” extended to for profit businesses does not allow them to pick what other health care elements they don’t want to cover due to “sincerely held religious beliefs,” but only contraception. They specifically note that, “This decision concerns only the contraception mandate and should not be understood to mean that all insurance mandates, that is for blood transfusions or vaccinations, necessarily fail if they conflict with an employer’s religious beliefs.”

There are a few small silver linings in the decision. The ruling only applies to those companies that have “more than 50% of the value of its outstanding stock owned (directly or indirectly) by 5 or fewer individuals at any time during the last half of the tax year; and Is not a personal service corporation.” Of course, as Vox also notes, that’s 90 percent of all companies.

The ruling on its own is alarming, of course. It’s even more alarming when it is coupled with the fact that those outside resources for birth control that employees will have to turn to because they will not have it in their insurance plan are also being shut down, and by the same people pushing for this “religious freedom.” AUL, Susan B. Anthony List and National Right to Life Committee all supported and pushed the Hobby Lobby suit, declaring that no person should be forced to compromise their religious beliefs to provide health care coverage they disagreed with morally. These are also the groups that have written and lobbied for numerous bills across the country stripping Planned Parenthood, the largest source for free or low co-pay birth control for the uninsured, of their funding, even in states where the reproductive health care entity doesn’t actually offer abortion services.

Also disturbing is the breakdown of justices in this decision, which entirely and exclusively effects women. Not one female justice sided with the majority. Not one of the court’s three non-Catholic justices sided with the majority.  The entirety of the five justice, slim majority, was a male, Catholic block, with only one Catholic, a woman, not joining them.

It’s quite clear who’s religious beliefs we are protecting here, and it’s a very scary precedent. Is this the start of the right for “religious” corporations to discriminate on other issues, like who they employ or who they provide services to?

“This is a deeply troubling decision. For the first time, the highest court in the country has said that business owners can use their religious beliefs to deny their employees a benefit that they are guaranteed by law,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU, via statement. “Religious freedom is a fundamental right, but that freedom does not include the right to impose beliefs on others. In its ruling today, the Court simply got it wrong.”

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jerome S
Jerome S1 years ago


Jim V
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Beryl Ludwig
Beryl L2 years ago

thank you

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe4 years ago

This is so WRONG!
If Hobby Lobby denies birth control coverage and the woman can't afford it and has the baby. Then the baby gets sick and the woman has to stay home with him/her, what happens when she can't come to work? Does she then get fired?
I seldom shop at Hobby Lobby and now I NEVER will.

Diane L.
Diane L4 years ago

I agree, Dale (and Robert). It still doesn't "compute" with me that the employer (Hobby Lobby in this scenario) could dictate what prescriptions or medical procedures will be covered and which ones will not. Normally, it's the insurance company that dictates that, and an employer merely contracts with the insurance company for "Plan A", "Plan B" or whatever.

Many insurance companies have been taken to task (sued in court) for discriminating against women (and in a few isolated cases, men) for medical procedures which were "arbitrary" in their opinion..........ie., alternatives were available. Some women have died, others almost died and some have gone to Mexico to pay for cheaper versions of what they wanted done HERE and paid 100% out of pocket. In fact, it was the subject of a Nightline episode and I think a C2 discussion about a woman who's employer paid her $2500 up front to go to Mexico (all expenses paid by him) for a procedure that the company's insurance refused to cover.

Dale O.

Robert H had said earlier in his comment:

"Insurance companies have been allowed to litigate ALL of THEIR risk out of the insurance business. They have become far too powerful and have turned into gluttons.

In order to save BUSINESS we WILL eventually have to go single payer. YOUR dogma wont change the eventual outcome. BUSINESSES also want single payer because that removes the whole health care monkey off of their backs."

That sounds logical, Robert H. Insurance companies are far too greedy and look for any way they possibly can to get out of honouring their obligations to their customers in a variety of circumstances. Many of those companies have become gluttonous over the years. I certainly hope that one day the U.S. does obtain a single payer system, although the right wing keeps on labelling that as somehow being 'socialist,' even though these exist now in most democratic Western nations...but given the right wing battle against even Obamacare, good luck with ever obtaining a single payer user system in the U.S.

Sorry, my earlier link got cut off, my bad.


Dale O.

"A number of proposals have been made for a universal single-payer healthcare system in the United States, most recently the United States National Health Care Act, (popularly known as H.R. 676 or "Medicare for All") but none have achieved more political support than 20% congressional co-sponsorship.

Advocates argue that preventative health care expenditures can save several hundreds of billions of dollars per year because publicly funded universal health care would benefit employers and consumers, that employers would benefit from a bigger pool of potential customers and that employers would likely pay less, would be spared administrative costs of health care benefits, and inequities between employers would be reduced. Advocates also argue that single payer could benefit employers by reducing health care costs, producing a more competitive labor market and reducing inequities between employers, producing a more fluid economy and increasing economic growth, aggregate demand, corporate profit, and quality of life.

Physicians for a National Health Program the American Medical Student Association and the California Nurses Association are among advocacy groups that have called for the introduction of a single payer health care program in the United States. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that 59% of physicians "supported legislation to establish national health insurance" while 9% were neutral on the topic, and 32% opposed it."


Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm4 years ago

exactly Diane its alll the luck of the draw or the egg I should say LOLOLOL

Diane L.
Diane L4 years ago

Yes, Robert, I've heard/read the same thing. After my daughter was born, my husband and I tried for 5 years to have a 2nd child and we waited 2 years to try, but figured it wouldn't be a problem. Yes, it was, and my OBGYN said that we were "trying too hard", LOL. I will let you "fill in the blanks". We wanted a 2nd child 2 or 3 years after our first, but it was almost 6 years between them. "Timing" is everything.