U.S. Update

Since the Supreme Court began its session, the Justices have heard oral arguments in Americans United’s Challenge to official town board prayers in Greece, NY.  At the same time, the town council in Brentwood, MD, decided to stop saying the Lord’s Prayer to open its meetings. The latest copy of Church and State from the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, can be accessed here.

The issue of availability of contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act has had many challenges. The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether the owners of for-profit companies can assert religious objections to deny their employees insurance coverage of contraceptive services and supplies in employer-sponsored health plans. According to the Guttmacher Institute, “The 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) guarantees that most private plans will have contraceptive coverage without cost-sharing for patients. Churches and other houses of worship are exempted from this requirement and an accommodation is in place for religious nonprofit organizations.

However, the administration has determined that private, for-profit businesses cannot claim to be religious employers and are not exempted from providing contraceptive coverage (the U.S. Senate affirmed this decision by rejecting a measure known as the Blunt amendment that would have granted for-profit corporations extensive “conscience” rights). The Court’s decision, if it were to grant for-profit corporations an exemption from covering contraception, could have significant negative effects on affected employees and their dependents – interfering with their ability to reap the well-documented health, social and economic benefits of contraceptive use.”  For further information on this topic, click here.