Yesterday, a divided 10th Circuit Court of Appeals put at risk access to contraception for more than 13,000 individuals. A majority of the court reversed a decision of a lower court which told the for-profit crafts store chain Hobby Lobby it has to comply with the federal contraceptive coverage benefit, just like other insurance plans across the country. But Hobby Lobby’s owner doesn’t want to treat his employees like everyone else. He thinks he should be able to decide whether female employees and dependents can access insurance coverage for certain forms of contraception.
While the court did not grant Hobby Lobby the right to get out of the benefit — it sent the case back to the lower court to decide whether or not to grant a preliminary injunction — a majority of the 10th Circuit made it clear that it believes there is merit to the claim that bosses should be able to impose their religious beliefs on their employees.
Two of the dissenting judges think otherwise, making it clear that the contraceptive coverage benefit only applies to what insurance plans cover. No one will be forced to buy or use contraception. As they said “[T]he decision of a female employee as to which contraceptive drug or device to use remains a private matter of individual choice. Thus, neither an employer, nor its officers and directors, by choosing to comply with the contraceptive-coverage regulation, become a party to, or otherwise encourage, an individual employee’s decision to use a particular drug or device.”
Since this decision is still in the preliminary stages, we’re hopeful that as the cases move forward, other courts will agree that bosses shouldn’t be able to make their employees’ reproductive health decisions.