Archdiocese: High court’s contraceptives-mandate decision does not end challenges to the law
A narrowly tailored Supreme Court decision June 30 in a challenge to the government’s requirement that most employers provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives is a victory for religious freedom, but the court’s finding does not halt all objections to the law, officials with the Archdiocese of Omaha and other Catholic groups said.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court said family-run Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods are protected from the requirement by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed by Congress in 1993. The opinion essentially held that closely held, for-profit companies may hold protected religious views.
“The court’s decision is a clear victory for Hobby Lobby-Conestoga Woods and religious freedom,” the archdiocese said in a statement.
But nonprofit faith-based organizations such as charities, hospitals and schools continue to object to an “accommodation” provision in the Affordable Care Act. That provision exempts them from directly paying for contraceptives in insurance plans, while requiring their insurance carriers to offer the coverage. Such organizations have argued that cooperating with the accommodation in effect triggers the insurance company coverage for contraceptives and premiums paid by employers inevitably help cover the cost.
“We continue to pray that these faith-based groups will prevail in their cases as well,” the Archdiocese of Omaha said in a statement, “and we eagerly await the thorough analysis the court’s decision will be subjected to in the coming weeks.”
The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, also praised the court’s ruling but expressed concern about the “accommodation” provision for nonprofit, faith-based organizations.
“Now is the time to redouble our efforts to build a culture that fully respects religious freedom,” Archbishop Kurtz said.