U.S. Supreme Court hands victories to religious employers in health care decision

    Supporters of employer-paid birth control rally in front of the Supreme Court in 2014. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a Trump administration effort to exempt employers with religious or moral concerns from complying with a “birth control mandate” in the Affordable Care Act, the Obama-era law that requires employer-provided insurance plans to cover contraceptives.

    Reproductive rights advocates say the ruling potentially affects hundreds of thousands of people seeking birth control and vastly expands the universe of potential exemptions to the law.

    It was one of a pair of 7-2 decisions the court issued on Wednesday in which liberal justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer joined the court’s conservative majority.

    Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented in both.

    “It is unbelievable that in 2020, we are still fighting for access to birth control, a critical, time-sensitive medication. The Affordable Care Act made great strides by providing birth control at no cost to individuals but today, the United States Supreme Court sent us back in time by allowing employers and universities to opt out of covering this crucial benefit,” said Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, in a statement.