News / USA

US Supreme Court Still to Decide on Controversial Birth Control Case

FILE - Customers enter and exit a Hobby Lobby store in Denver.
FILE - Customers enter and exit a Hobby Lobby store in Denver.
VOA News
Whether for-profit companies with religious objections can be forced to offer coverage for contraceptives in their insurance plans is one of the controversial cases expected to be delivered next week by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In March, the court heard arguments brought by two family-owned companies, including the arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby, over a requirement in the new health care law. The new law requires that contraception be covered - unless the employer is a religious organization.

The administration has made  churches and religious non-profits exempt from the "contraception mandate," but Hobby Lobby and the other company, Mennonite family-owned Conestoga Wood Specialties, contend that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects them as well.
 
FILE - Hobby Lobby co-founders David and Barbara Green are seeking an exemption from part of the federal health care law that requires it to offer employees health coverage that includes access to the morning-after pill.FILE - Hobby Lobby co-founders David and Barbara Green are seeking an exemption from part of the federal health care law that requires it to offer employees health coverage that includes access to the morning-after pill.
x
FILE - Hobby Lobby co-founders David and Barbara Green are seeking an exemption from part of the federal health care law that requires it to offer employees health coverage that includes access to the morning-after pill.
FILE - Hobby Lobby co-founders David and Barbara Green are seeking an exemption from part of the federal health care law that requires it to offer employees health coverage that includes access to the morning-after pill.

The Greens, a Christian family from Oklahoma, owns Hobby Lobby, which has about 500 stores  with more than 16,000 full-time employees. Forbes valued the family’s net worth at $5 billion.

Company President Steve Green argued that if Hobby Lobby’s health insurance plan provided a contraceptive that is used after intercourse – such as the so-called “morning-after pill” – the Greens would be party to an abortion.

“This is an issue of life, that we cannot be a part of taking life. And so to be in a situation where our government is telling us we have to be is incredible,” Green said in a corporate video.

The family released a video in March to explain their decision to challenge the Affordable Care Act.

“People are saying that we are taking rights away from somebody, and there's no way we are taking anybody's rights away,” company founder David Green says in the video while seated on a couch next to his wife, Barbara Green. “It's our rights that are being infringed upon to require us to do something that is against our conscience.”

Tricky legal questions

In determining the case, the Supreme Court will have to consider two tricky legal questions.

One is whether for-profit corporations have a right to religious freedom similar to what the U.S. Constitution gives to citizens.

The other is, even if that’s not the case, whether business owners’ religious rights come before those of their employees.

Polls show that while the overwhelming majority of Americans favor contraceptive coverage, many think business owners who have moral objections should not be forced to provide it.
 
A Hobby Lobby and Conestoga victory could have wide-ranging implications, and may even give license to discrimination, said Caroline Frederickson of the left-leaning American Constitution Society.

A ruling the other way, however, could clear the way for restrictions on religious practice. The example given is a ban on kosher and halal slaughter, as some European countries have instituted, said Lori Windham of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Hobby Lobby.

Experts say the controversy is particular to America’s system of employer-provided health insurance, and would not be an issue for business owners in a single-payer system in which the state provides health care services.

The other cases expected to be delivered Thursday include abortion clinic buffer zones, presidential recess appointments and labor union rights.

Jerome Socolovsky contributed to this report from Washington. Some information for this report provided by Reuters.

You May Like

China Announces Corruption Probe into Senior Ex-Leader

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, being probed for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Bruce from: The USA
June 19, 2014 3:34 PM
No, it is NOT a "tricky legal question" whether the owners' rights "come before those of their employees". The owners' right to free exercise of religion is enshrined in the FIRST Amendment. What employees' "rights" are you talking about? The right to free birth control pills? That's a perk, not a right.


by: Paul from: North America
June 19, 2014 3:04 PM
If the Supreme Court rules in Favor of the Greens, they would not be saying that the religious rights of the Greens are more important than those of their employees. The Greens are not preventing their employees from getting morning after pills. They simply refuse to pay for it. If the Supreme Court rules against the Greens, then the beliefs of the employees would be forced onto the Greens.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid