US Federal Appeals Court Rules For-Profit Must Cover Contraception
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled on Tuesday that Autocam Corporation - a for-profit entity that provides manufacturing services for automotive and medical industries - must comply with the Affordable Care Act's contraception coverage mandate.
Autocam claimed that providing contraception coverage in its health care plans at no extra cost for employees would violate its rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). In a unanimous opinion, the Sixth Circuit rejected Autocam's argument and determined that secular, for-profit corporations are not "persons" protected under the the Act.
Rev. Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, praised the decision. "Religious liberty is for people, not Big Business," Lynn said. "No corporation should ever be able to tell its employees that they can't have access to contraceptive coverage simply because it offends the boss' religious views." Americans United filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case.
Over 40 secular, for-profit corporations, have alleged that providing contraception coverage in their employee health care plans at no cost violates their religious rights, and a total of 70 federal lawsuits have been filed by opponents to the birth control benefit. Federal courts across the country have been split on whether or not secular, for-profit businesses can be exempt from compliance, suggesting that the Supreme Court will be forced to rule on the issue soon.
Media Resources: US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Opinions 9/17/2013; Americans United for Separation of Church and State Press Release 9/17/2013; RH Reality Check 9/17/2013