What do an arts and crafts store, a furniture manufacturer, and a fresh produce distributor have in common? While I wish this was the opening to a good joke, the sad reality is that each one is a private business that has been allowed to assert a religious objection to withhold birth control coverage from their workers as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (Hobby Lobby). In its June 2014 decision, the Court held that certain private companies can use religion to discriminate against workers by denying them basic healthcare that is guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The consequence of this ruling is no joke, either. While Hobby Lobby originated from claims over a few specific forms of birth control, the Supreme Court’s ruling applied to all forms of contraception. What’s more is that they didn’t limit birth control as the only benefit a company could refuse to cover, meaning that denying workers birth control may just be the tip of the iceberg. Other health benefits – mental health care, immunizations, and HIV/AIDS treatment, among others – could be next. All of this doesn’t even approach what could happen if the wall of separation between religion and state continues to be torn down, as this 3-minute Coalition for Liberty and Justice video shows.