The Legal Column: Balancing religious freedom and health care access image

Lahey Health Journal of Medical Ethics , Fall 2015
Holly F. Lynch (Executive Director) & I. Glenn Cohen (Faculty Director)

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From the column: 

Whether employers providing health insurance to their employees should be required to cover free contraceptives in the face of a religious objection to doing so is a divisive question, potentially pitting religious and reproductive freedom against one another. What the law permits or demands in this scenario has been the source of more than 100 federal cases since the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) promulgated the contraceptives coverage mandate in 2011, requiring certain employers to provide health insurance coverage of contraceptives without cost to their employees. This article will briefly recap the Supreme Court’s 2014 decision on the mandate in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., discuss pending litigation and recent regulations, and comment on the implications of these cases for religious accommodation in U.S. health care.

Where we are

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that most employers offer group health insurance that provides “minimum essential coverage,” including free “preventive care and screenings” for women. In its regulations, HHS determined that this should be interpreted to include all FDA-approved contraceptive methods and sterilization procedures. [...]

bioethics health law policy holly fernandez lynch i. glenn cohen public health religion reproductive rights