Supreme Court Takes Up Monumental Abortion Case
All of a sudden, the Supreme Court is getting all up in women’s business.
In the past week, the Court has agreed to hear two cases that, taken together, will tell us whether the (male) justices think women’s place in American society is to be barefoot and pregnant, more or less.
1. Hobby Lobby, part two
It started last week with contraception. Following 2014’s landmark ruling from the Court allowing arts-and-crafts giant Hobby Lobby to claim a religious exemption to the Obamacare mandate that employers cover employees’ contraception as part of their health insurance, several religious non-profits figured they could get in on the Hobby Lobby game.
Obamacare has a special provision that accommodates religious non-profits by allowing them to file a short form that would exempt them from providing contraception to their employees. Once filed, this form triggers the government and the health insurer to work together, separate from the employer, to cover the employees’ contraception. The exemption should make everyone happy – the employee still gets contraception covered in her insurance plan, the employer spends no money supporting what it considers immoral sex habits, and the government still meets its goal of having contraceptive coverage for almost everybody. It’s a win-win-win arrangement that the Supreme Court pointed favorably to in the Hobby Lobby case.
But not so fast. Apparently filling out a short form and putting a stamp on the envelope to mail it is too much for some religious non-profits. They want nothing to do with icky, filthy, non-procreative sex, even if no real effort or money on their part is required. So they sued, claiming this accommodation violates their religious liberty, just like Hobby Lobby’s. Almost every appellate court in the country agreed that this claim was absurd, but the 8th Circuit found otherwise in September. With the lower courts divided, the Supreme Court took the case last Friday.
2. A monumental abortion case
Not getting enough of women’s reproductive health, on Friday the Court accepted a case out of Texas that could be the most important abortion decision in decades. The specific issue is whether the Constitution allows the second most populous – and second largest –state in the country to use sham health justifications to reduce the number of abortion clinics in the state from 42 to ten (or even fewer). The more general issue is whether, without making abortion illegal, the state can regulate abortion to near non-existence.