Culture, Global, Politics, Sex & Gender

Supreme Court refuses to hear birthcontrol challenge

On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to reexamine a new York court ruling upholding a state law that forces religious-based social service agencies to subsidize contraceptives as part of prescription drug coverage they offer employees.
Since New York is one of 23 states that require employers that offer prescription benefits to employees to cover birth control pills as well,this refusal to hear the case will actually have quite wide effect. I suppose I should mention that I am very surprised by this, given the current makeup of the court. The original law was made in 2002, called the “Women’s Health and Wellness Act” and requires health plans to cover a number of services aimed at women, including contraception, mammography, cervical cancer screenings and bone density exams.
According to AP,

Catholic Charities and other religious groups argued New York’s law violates their First Amendment right to practice their religion because it forces them to violate religious teachings that regard contraception as sinful.
“If the state can compel church entities to subsidize contraceptives in violation of their religious beliefs, it can compel them to subsidize abortions as well,” the groups said in urging the court to take their case. “And if it can compel church entities to subsidize abortions, it can require hospitals owned by churches to provide them.”
Other Catholic and Baptist organizations are part of the lawsuit. Seventh-Day Adventist and Orthodox Jewish groups signed onto a brief filed in support of Catholic Charities.
Three years ago the court rejected a challenge to a similar law in California….
The New York law contains an exemption for churches, seminaries and other institutions with a mainly religious mission that primarily serve followers of that religion. Catholic Charities and the other groups sought the exemption, but they hire and serve people of different faiths

This is all pretty amazing in my eyes, but a welcome respite from the usual (at least recently) hijinks of the high court. While, I sympathize with the religious organizations that don’t want to offer services that their faith group opposes, I have to say frankly, that if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Catholic hospitals are now a juggernaut in the American health care system, and if they decide tomorrow that arterial plaque is holy, I don’t want to have travel possibly to another state to get treatment for heart disease. This reminds me of the entire brou-ha-ha over the D&X procedure, in which Congresspersons were shown doctors performing dilation and extraction abortions, and obviously it looked yucky; well, that’s because when you do surgery, there’s blood. Open heart surgery isn’t all that pretty either. Nevertheless, sometimes people’s lives are at stake, and according to Jewish law, when one’s life is at stake one not only may, but must, take action. Thus, if I live in a place where I can’t get services because all the hospitals are run by Catholic institutions, my religious beliefs are being violated. And that holds, according to the groups pursuing this case, even if I can find a Jewish doctor to perform my bypass surgery, or whatever.
Yay to New York, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia (the other states with similar laws).
If you don’t live in one of these states, consider it a good idea to get a law like this passed in yours. One should be able to consult one’s own religious teachers and guides for instruction on what is permissible, and not have to obey someone else’s. Your doctor and you should be making your health care decisions, not the pope, or some reverend so-and-so somewhere.
xp Kol Ra’ash Gadol

One thought on “Supreme Court refuses to hear birthcontrol challenge

  1. As a person who deals with health insurance benefits regularly, the exclusion for the Women’s Health and Wellness act does mandate that the insurance company does offer a direct pay service for individuals who may want coverage for services which are denied by their employer based upon religious convictions. The policy holder is issued a separate id number for any claims which might come in, so there’s no way that the Diocese might find out what undesirable procedure or drug the policy is being used for.
    Or, at least that’s how they do it where I work.

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