The Supreme Court on Monday declined to enter a church-state dispute over whether some religious organizations can be forced to pay for workers' birth-control health insurance benefits, a growing trend in the states.
The court let stand a New York court ruling upholding a state law that forces religious-based social service agencies to subsidize contraceptives as part of prescription drug coverage they offer employees.
New York is one of 23 states that require employers that offer prescription benefits to employees to cover birth control pills as well, the groups say. The state enacted the Women's Health and Wellness Act in 2002 to require health plans to cover contraception and other services aimed at women, including mammography, cervical cancer screenings and bone density exams.
Catholic Charities and other religious groups argued New York's law violates their First Amendment right to practice their religion because it forces them to violate religious teachings that regard contraception as sinful. Read more...
bluegal: Clearly the court sees that it is up to religious organizations to insist that their members practice the religion, rather than insist that the insurance companies enforce religion for them. For instance, contraception is very widely practiced among American Catholics: this report (pdf) points out that sexually active Catholic women above the age of 18 are just as likely (97%) to have used some form of contraception banned by the Catholic church as women in the general population (97%)." More importantly, "75% percent of Catholics believe that you can be a good Catholic without obeying the church hierarchy’s teaching on birth control and only 13% believe that the church hierarchy should have the final say in contraception."