A Lebanese Catholic priest calls on believers around the world to pray for the people of his country following two explosions in Beirut that left dozens dead and thousands injured. “We ask your nation to carry Lebanon in its hearts at this difficult stage, and we place great trust in you and in your prayers, […]
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Trump administration ruling that allows for employers with religious or moral objections to opt-out of the contraceptive coverage mandate that is included in the Affordable Care Act. According to government estimates, the religious exemption would lead to possibly as many 125,000 women losing their coverage.
Justice Clarence Thomas, who authored the majority opinion, wrote that the Trump administration “had the authority to provide exemptions from the regulatory contraceptive requirements for employers with religious and conscientious objections.”
“The only question we face today is what the plain language of the statute authorizes,” Thomas wrote. “And the plain language of the statute clearly allows the Departments to create the preventive care standards as well as the religious and moral exemptions.”
In their dissenting opinion, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the court has previously taken a “balanced approach” in its consideration of cases that deal with religious freedom, taking care to “not allow the religious beliefs of some to overwhelm the rights and interests of others who do not share those beliefs.”
“Today, for the first time, the court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests in its zeal to secure religious rights to the nth degree,” leaving “women workers to fend for themselves” in finding and paying for access to birth control, they wrote.
The Supreme Court challenge came after Pennsylvania and New Jersey had successfully halted implementation of the regulations in the lower courts. The states argued that the federal government failed to follow the legal protocol known as notice-and-comment in creating the rules.
The states said that if the rules went into effect, they would be saddled with increased costs to run their taxpayer-funded family-planning programs.
Women’s groups and civil rights organizations condemned the ruling. In a tweet, Planned Parenthood President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson said the organization would continue to fight for universal access to affordable contraceptive care.