Corporations Claiming ‘Religious Liberty’ Try to Infringe on Their Employees’ Religious Liberty
This is a refrain oft-repeated by lawyers for the more than 40 for-profit companies that have filed lawsuits challenging the birth control benefit, the provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires nearly all insurance policies to cover preventive health-care services for women, including contraception without co-pay or deductible. Plaintiffs in these lawsuits complain that the birth control benefit forces company owners—and, indeed, the companies themselves—to either violate sincerely held religious beliefs (by paying for, providing, facilitating, or otherwise supporting contraception, which they find morally objectionable) or risk paying severe penalties.
Such claims are compelling but, ultimately, untenable. The birth control benefit no more forces employers to violate their religious beliefs than the minimum wage set forth in the Fair Labor Standards Act does. The birth control benefit simply seeks to promote gender equality and women’s public health, and attempts to achieve parity between the cost of health care for women on the one hand, and men on the other. Moreover, it is perfectly constitutional.