Washington, D.C. — On March 23, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for Zubik v. Burwell, a consolidation of seven cases challenging the government’s accommodation for religiously affiliated nonprofits that refuse to comply with the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. Today, the Center for American Progress released a column and interactive that examine how a ruling in favor of Zubik would endanger the religious liberty of hundreds of thousands of students, employees, and their dependents and would threaten the health and economic security of hundreds of thousands of women and families.
CAP also released a video today featuring faith leaders who stand with women and families and support women’s right to autonomy and dignity in all areas of their lives.
In 2013, President Barack Obama’s administration offered an accommodation for religious nonprofits that claim the ACA’s contraceptive requirement infringes on their religious rights. Despite this accommodation, the plaintiffs in Zubik—including religious universities and colleges, charities, and hospitals—argue that the accommodation violates their religious rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, by making them complicit in facilitating coverage for reproductive health care to which they object.
However, the exemption effectively requested in Zubik—that religiously affiliated nonprofits be allowed to opt out of the ACA’s contraception mandate—is an abuse of religious liberty and harms women’s health.
“Religious liberty is a core American value and access to health care is a human right,” said Claire Markham, Outreach and Campaign Manager for the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress. “We must protect the religious liberty and the reproductive health care of the hundreds of thousands of women who work at religiously affiliated nonprofits or attend religiously affiliated schools, as well as that of their families.”
Zubik follows the high-profile 2014 case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., in which the Supreme Court ruled that closely held for-profit corporations—which could include up to 90 percent of businesses—could refuse to comply with the ACA’s contraception mandate. As CAP has previously demonstrated, the Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby drastically distorted religious liberty protections by imposing the religious beliefs of a few on the many.
In 2015, the Center for American Progress and Small Business Majority commissioned a national scientific opinion poll, which found that a majority of small business owners—62 percent—believes that if a small business provides health insurance to its employees, it should be required to cover birth control even if doing so conflicts with the owner’s religious beliefs. The poll also found that this belief is shared by small business owners across political and religious affiliations.
Read the column: A Win for Zubik Undermines the Religious Liberty of Employees by Lauren Kokum
Read the interactive: Zubik v. Burwell: Pushing Reproductive Health Care Access to the Precipice by Lauren Kokum and Sheridan Ruiz
Watch the video: Faith Voices for Reproductive Justice: Standing with Women and Families by Claire Markham, Lauren Kokum, and Kulsum Ebrahim
For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Chelsea Kiene at email@example.com or 202.478.5328.