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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs