NEW YORK TIMES: The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-to-4 decision on Monday that requiring family-owned corporations to pay for insurance coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act violated a federal law protecting religious freedom. The decision, which applied to two companies owned by Christian families, opened the door to challenges from other corporations to many laws that may be said to violate their religious liberty. The coverage requirement was challenged by two corporations whose owners say they try to run their businesses on religious principles: Hobby Lobby, a chain of crafts stores, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, which makes wood cabinets. The health care law and related regulations require many employers to provide female workers with comprehensive insurance coverage for a variety of methods of contraception. The companies objected to some of the methods, saying they are tantamount to abortion because they can prevent embryos from implanting in the womb. Providing insurance coverage for those forms of contraception would, the companies said, make them complicit in the practice. […] The administration argued that requiring insurance plans to include comprehensive coverage for contraception promotes public health and ensures that “women have equal access to health care services.” The government’s briefs added that doctors, rather than employers, should decide which form of contraception is best. A supporting brief from the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy group, said that many women cannot afford the most effective means of birth control and that the law will reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions. MORE
RELATED: While it was suing the government, Hobby Lobby spent millions of dollars on an employee retirement plan that invested in the manufacturers of the same contraceptive products the firm’s owners cite in their lawsuit. Documents filed with the Department of Labor and dated December 2012—three months after the company’s owners filed their lawsuit—show that the Hobby Lobby 401(k) employee retirement plan held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions. Hobby Lobby makes large matching contributions to this company-sponsored 401(k). Several of the mutual funds in Hobby Lobby’s retirement plan have stock holdings in companies that manufacture the specific drugs and devices that the Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, is fighting to keep out of Hobby Lobby’s health care policies: the emergency contraceptive pills Plan B and Ella, and copper and hormonal intrauterine devices. These companies include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which makes Plan B and ParaGard, a copper IUD, and Actavis, which makes a generic version of Plan B and distributes Ella. Other stock holdings in the mutual funds selected by Hobby Lobby include Pfizer, the maker of Cytotec and Prostin E2, which are used to induce abortions; Bayer, which manufactures the hormonal IUDs Skyla and Mirena; AstraZeneca, which has an Indian subsidiary that manufactures Prostodin, Cerviprime, and Partocin, three drugs commonly used in abortions; and Forest Laboratories, which makes Cervidil, a drug used to induce abortions. Several funds in the Hobby Lobby retirement plan also invested in Aetna and Humana, two health insurance companies that cover surgical abortions, abortion drugs, and emergency contraception in many of the health care policies they sell. MORE
PHAWKER: Dear SCOTUS, what if antibiotics, mammograms and HIV tests are against Hobby Lobby’s religion? What if any kind of medical attention at all is against Hobby Lobby’s religion and they think we should just pray over the sick until they become well?