On Wednesday the Supreme Court upheld a decision that employers with religious or moral objections do not have to provide free contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act, according to The New York Times.
The 7-2 ruling was written by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas who was joined by the conservative justices, while Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented. However, many of the conservative justices did acknowledge that the fight was not over, and could spur another round of lawsuits. The decision reverses a lower court decision which blocked the regulations.
The ruling marks a dark win for the Trump administration, who worked to undo a hard fought Obamacare mandate that required a majority of employers to offer free coverage for birth control. Under the ACA, churches and other house of worship were exempt. A 2014 ruling stated that privately held corporations with religious objections like Hobby Lobby, could also opt out.
But there was discrepancy among religious charities, hospitals and universities. Those institutions would defer coverage to their insurers. However, religious groups like Little Sisters of the Poor refused, prompting a series of lawsuits that led to Wednesday’s decision.
The ruling also acknowledged that 75,000 to 126,000 women could lose employer coverage for contraceptives. Without insurance access, the cost for oral contraception ranges between $600 to $1,000 a year and the cost sky rockets for contraceptives like IUD’s. This will undoubtedly affect Black communities, communities of color and LGBTQ+ communities who already struggle underneath the wage gap and the pursuit of economic stability.
Pro-choice and women’s rights advocacy groups have already spoken out in condemnation of the ruling, including Planned Parenthood.
“Today’s ruling is egregious — people rely on birth control for their health, for their livelihoods, and for their ability to determine their own futures. The dual public health crises of COVID-19 and systemic racism and violence are pushing people, our health care system, and our economy beyond their limits, and yet today, the Supreme Court has allowed the Trump administration to make essential health care even more difficult to access,” Planned Parenthood President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement obtained by MadameNoire.
“Restrictions like this target Black and Latinx people who are more likely to be low income and for whom basic health care has always remained out of reach, because of historic and continued underinvestment in access to affordable care. This decision will only make life harder for the very people who are keeping our economy afloat during this pandemic and fighting in the streets for the right to control their bodies and lives,” she continued.
“This is not over. We will do all we can to ensure those who need birth control and other sexual and reproductive health care can access it. And we will not stop until that is a reality for everyone, no matter who you work for, where you go to school, how much money you make, or the color of your skin. You have the right to make your own decisions about your body, your health care, and your future, and we will never back down from this fight,” McGill Johnson concluded.