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For-Profit Companies Increasingly Denying Contraceptive Coverage After Hobby Lobby Ruling

For-Profit Companies Increasingly Denying Contraceptive Coverage After Hobby Lobby Ruling

December 17, 2014 — While the Supreme Court's Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision received the most public attention, more than two dozen other for-profit companies have also obtained court rulings allowing them to deny contraceptive coverage to their workers, and about two dozen more are expected to do so soon, the Daily Beast reports (Haglage, Daily Beast, 12/17).

The companies' owners object on religious grounds to rules implemented under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) that require most for-profit, private businesses to offer contraceptive coverage in their employer-sponsored health plans.

In the Supreme Court case, which involved arts-and-craft retail chain Hobby Lobby and cabinet maker Conestoga Wood Specialties, the justices ruled that closely held corporations cannot be required to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees if the corporations' owners have religious objections to contraception (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/30).

Consequences of Ruling

According to the Daily Beast, 82 similar lawsuits filed by corporations were stayed in anticipation of the high court's ruling in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga case. Based on the ruling, courts have allowed more than two dozen such corporations to refuse to offer contraceptive coverage based on their owners' religious objections, with 25 others "well on their way" to similar rulings, the Daily Beast reports.

National Women's Law Center senior counsel Leila Abolfazli said that the rulings in favor of the companies are having a "real impact" on women. She said, "Paying out of pocket for some women may be impossible because they don't have the income -- or for some, it may be that they can't afford the right one. It's a full range of problems."

According to the Daily Beast, "thousands of women" are affected at companies across the U.S. and have to pay for contraceptives out-of-pocket, which can cost hundreds of dollars annually.

A 2009 Guttmacher study found that out-of-pocket costs for contraceptives caused some women to "forego [contraceptives] completely, to choose less effective methods, or to use [contraceptives] inconsistently or incorrectly."

According to Abolfazli, many women have been calling NWLC's "Cover Her" helpline for assistance with coverage questions. She said, "There's just this feeling [among the callers] that comes through that it's really unfair" that "[d]epending on your employer, you have different rights" (Daily Beast, 12/17).