As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on Obamacare's requirement that insurers cover all methods of birth control, activists are starting to wonder what the case could mean for their causes. On Tuesday the court will hear cases from Hobby Lobby and Conestoga, two for-profit businesses that argue they should exempt from offering coverage for IUDs and emergency birth control because it violates their religious beliefs against abortion. The court's ruling could have important legal ramifications for LGBT, women's, and religious rights activists.
The companies argue that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which protects individuals from "substantial religious burden" unless it furthers a "compelling interest" of the government policy, according to the Pew Research Center. The government argues that accessible birth control is such an interest and, more importantly, the RFRA doesn't apply to businesses. Based on how the court decides — its decision is expected in June — the ruling could change the way courts understand the causes involved.
LGBT rights activists
Legal experts have argued that, if the court rules that RFRA applies to for-profit businesses, companies could argue that laws preventing discrimination against the LGBT community also be challenged, The New York Times reports. Even those who argue that the such claims are "unfounded," as Notre Dame law professor Richard W. Garnett put it, admit there are exceptions. Arizona's bill protecting businesses that refuse to serve gay couples — vetoed this month by the governor — might be such an exception.
Religious rights activists
As Pew notes, if the court decides that the RFRA doesn't apply to for-profit businesses, that would put an end to the other legal challenges to the contraception mandate pending in courts across the country. If the court decides that the contraception mandate isn't a "substantial religious burden," that would also affect non-profit suits, who would have a harder time proving that providing insurance that covers Plan B and similar drugs is a religious burden.
Women's rights activists
Recent studies have shown that Plan B doesn't actually prevent implantation, which challenges the argument that covering Plan B affects religious objections to "abortion-inducing" drugs, The Daily Beast's Tiffany Stanley reports. Less research has been done on Ella, a week-after pill, and the two IUDs also opposed in the case. The court won't argue over the validity of Hobby Lobby's religious objection, which is its own problem. But, as Stanley writes, it's the fact that the FDA has scientifically out-of-date information on its warning labels that led to the religious objection to Plan B.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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