4 comments on “Birth Control – Abortion

  1. Blue Shield Agent Bulletin

    The “Hobby Lobby case” challenged the ACA requirement to provide coverage for certain family planning and contraceptive services (Plan B, IUDs, etc.). Certain employers claimed that this requirement was offensive to their religious beliefs and violated their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (“RFRA”).

    The Supreme Court held that the plaintiffs in this case, and other similarly situated closely held corporations with similar religious beliefs, cannot be required to provide contraceptive coverage under the ACA. It’s important to note that this holding applies only to contraceptives and not to other insurance requirements (e.g. transfusions, immunizations, etc.). In addition, the Court noted that the federal government currently has in place a less restrictive alternative to ensure coverage/payment for contraceptives for the employees of such employers – specifically, the federal accommodation for religious-affiliated non-profit entities, which Blue Shield of California implemented late last year. The Court pointed to this federal accommodation as something the federal government may extend to the type of employers at issue in this case (closely held, for-profit corporations).

    This decision relies on the provisions of the RFRA, which applies only to the laws and regulations of the federal government and agencies. It does not apply to the laws of states, including California. Because underwritten plans must comply with state law and California’s existing state law requiring coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices is not invalidated by the holding in this case, it is anticipated that the primary impact will be to Administrative Services Only (ASO) plans and not to underwritten plans.

    Next steps
    Blue Shield’s Legal department will be analyzing this decision in more detail and will be providing further analysis and recommendations in the near future.

  2. The Justice Department’s top litigator, Donald Verrilli Jr., will defend ACA rules requiring private firms’ insurance plans to cover all forms of contraception. Lawyers representing the firms in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius say those rules violate their religious beliefs. They consider several birth-control methods to be forms of abortion, including the morning-after pill and intrauterine devices.


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