Two Cases Bring Contraceptive vs. Religious Freedom Debate to the Supreme Court
Two separate cases involving the mandatory distribution of birth control are making their way to the Supreme Court.
The first, involving Christian pharmacists from Washington, argues that the group should not be legally obligated to disperse the Plan B pill or other emergency contraceptives if it does not align with their religious beliefs. The pharmacists argue when a customer comes in for these items, they simply refer them to another local pharmacy instead of providing it at their store. This process is legal in the U.S. and accepted by the American Pharmacists Association.
In 2012, a judge in Washington agreed that having to disperse these contraceptives violated the pharmacists’ rights to religious freedom, however this ruling was overturned by an appeals court in July.
The second case, brought to the Supreme Court by a charity run by nuns known as Little Sisters of the Poor, argues they should not be legally required by Obamacare to provide employees with coverage for birth control.
These nuns argue they are not against women receiving coverage for birth control, but that they should not be forced to provide it: “To be clear, petitioners do not object to any government action that provides contraceptives to their employees,” their attorneys stated, “But they do object to being compelled to take government-prescribed actions to facilitate that coverage.”
Certain employers are already exempt from this birth control mandate outlined in Obamacare, and the nuns of Little Sisters of the Poor hope to have religious non-profits added to this list.
The outcome of both these cases, and any similar cases that arise, will set a precedent for how cases of religious freedom are treated in the future, so all eyes will be on the Supreme Court until a ruling is handed down.