By Tresa Baldas
Detroit Free Press.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Hobby Lobby ruling has sparked a lot of confusion about the fate of birth control in America, though legal experts say the decision isn’t as fuzzy as it seems.
There are some certainties.
Not all employers are covered by the ruling, only “closely held” corporations with 50-plus employees can deny contraceptive coverage to employees on religious grounds.
Birth control has not been banned; neither has abortion.
Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees are not covered by the ruling as federal law has never required them to provide contraceptive coverage for their workers.
And women who work for family-owned businesses like Hobby Lobby can still get the pill, they just have to jump through some extra hoops.
So, what exactly did the high court say about birth control?
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that requiring certain employers to pay for contraceptives to which they are morally opposed because of their religion violates the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
That means that certain employers, specifically “closely held” corporations, are exempt from the Obama administration’s 2010 Affordable Care Act, which requires employers to pay for contraceptives through company insurance plans.
But to be exempt, the high court stressed, companies must demonstrate “sincere” religious beliefs.
Five Michigan companies opposed to paying for birth control believe they have done just that and are counting on the ruling to aid their own lawsuits, which have been shot down by lower courts.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court gave two of those companies a boost when it ordered the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its decisions against the companies: Eden Foods, a Clinton-based natural foods company; and Autocam in Kentwood.
The high court also clarified its decision on Tuesday, noting the Hobby Lobby ruling covers all 20 FDA-approvedcontraceptives, not just the two morning-after pills and two intrauterine devices that Hobby Lobby had sued over.