Today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that employees with religious objections can opt out of providing contraception coverage under Obamacare was condemned by state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who said it threatens a woman’s access to birth control.
“It is an injustice to everyone who has fought for decades to bring health insurance parity to women in Washington state and nationwide,” said Kreidler. “The court has essentially said that a corporation’s religious affiliation can trump women’s health care choices.”
The 5-4 ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby deals with only a small provision of Obamacare and will not scuttle the entire law. Still, it is a setback for Obamacare, the administration and its supporters, for the justices have given Obamacare opponents their most potent political victory against the health care law, reinforcing their case that the law encroaches on Americans’ freedoms.
The companies in the Hobby Lobby case had said that the use of some contraceptives is the equivalent of abortion, destroying a human life by interfering with a fertilized egg. For that reason, they said, providing the coverage would violate their religious beliefs.
The Hobby Lobby argued that it should not be required to pay for employees’ contraceptives because of the religious beliefs of its owners. The corporation argued that it had religious freedom rights that were more important than the government’s interest in protecting women’s access to reproductive health care. The Court sided with Hobby Lobby, allowing certain for-profit corporations to refuse to pay for employees’ contraceptive coverage based on religious grounds. The Court left room for the federal government to find another way to ensure women receive contraceptives.
“It’s too soon to say definitively how this decision may impact consumers’ existing insurance coverage,” said Kreidler in a prepared statement. “Now it’s up to Congress or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to take swift action in clarifying how women can access these critical health services. If they do not, I will investigate every option we have for maintaining women’s reproductive health choices in Washington state.”