Today, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a much-anticipated decision in the cases of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius. The main issue in these cases is whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993 allows for-profit companies to deny health insurance coverage of contraceptives on the grounds of religious objection. The court’s decision to allow corporations to deny insurance coverage of contraception has major implications for Black women across the United States.
The 5-4 decision states that closely-held corporations, like those owned by 5 or fewer individuals, cannot be required to provide contraceptive coverage because RFRA requires the government to provide these corporations the same accommodation it already provides non-profit organizations. Rules related to the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, clarify that non-profit religious organizations do not have to offer health insurance coverage for contraception. The Court was sure to clarify that the decision only applies to the contraceptive coverage requirement and does not apply to other preventive health care services like vaccines or blood transfusions. That’s some good news, but the decision will make it harder for women employed at closely-held corporations to access contraception – an important health care product for all women, and Black women in particular.