A federal judge ruled yesterday that a group of Catholic institutions in New York do not have to comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraceptive coverage requirement. The ACA guarantees that all new health insurance plans cover FDA-approved contraceptives, including the pill and IUDs, without co-pays or deductibles.

US District Judge Brian Cogan in Brooklyn ruled that the six plaintiffs – Archdiocese of New York, Catholic Health Care System, Catholic Health Services of Long Island, Diocese of Rockville Centre, Cardinal Spellman High School, and Monsignor Farrell High School – are exempt from the mandate because of their religious beliefs. This case is Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York v. Sebelius [PDF].

Although the ACA provision has helped thousands of US women obtain contraception – the proportion of women paying zero dollars for oral contraceptive pills increased from 15 to 40 percent since it went into effect – this ruling will make it harder for the more than 25,000 employees of the plaintiffs to obtain affordable contraception.

Several for-profit companies have also challenged the ACA contraceptive coverage requirement in federal courts. In November, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge by Hobby Lobby, a for-profit national craft store chain, and Conestoga Wood, a wood cabinet manufacturer. Both are arguing that the requirement violates the religious beliefs of these corporations and that they should not be required to provide health insurance plans that cover certain types of birth control.

The Feminist Majority Foundation launched a petition to send the Supreme Court a clear message that companies should not be able to use religion as cover to discriminate against women. Sign our petition, leave stories,and tell the Court why birth control coverage matters to you! You can also share the petition online using the tag #MyBodyMyBC!

US District Court Eastern District of New York 12/16/13; RH Reality Check 12/16/13; Feminist Newswire 11/12/13, 11/26/13, 12/13/13; Bloomberg Business Week 12/15/13; Change.org

 

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