The Supreme Court declined to hear a case Monday about whether religious-based social services agencies should be forced to subsidize the cost of contraceptives as part of their health insurance benefits. The court effectively upheld a New York law, the Women’s Health and Wellness Act of 2002, which compels employers offering prescription benefits to their employees to cover contraception.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), praised the Supreme Court’s decision, noting that “[t]his case was a direct challenge to women’s access to affordable birth control.” JoAnn M. Smith, president and CEO of Family Planning Advocates of New York State, added: “Birth control is basic health care and women should have access to it. It is inexcusable for a major employer to deny basic health care to women who work for them.”
The New York law in question contains an exemption for churches and other organizations with a religious mission that primarily serve members of their own faith. Catholic Charities and the other religious groups that filed the lawsuit were excluded from this exemption since they employ and serve people of other faiths, the Associated Press reports.
PPFA told the AP that, in addition to New York, 22 states have similar laws on the books.