Arguably, citizens of the United States of American are endowed with “certain unalienable rights.” Our forefathers fought to establish a government that would enable its citizens to protect these rights should they be challenged. Recently the rights of two different groups have been called into question surrounding the Contraception Mandate, which is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), signed into law by President Obama on March 23rd 2010.
The mandate states that employers who offer health care insurance are required by law to provide “minimum essential” health care coverage to their employees’, part of which includes the coverage of contraceptives. Exempt from the mandate, are companies with fewer than 50 employees and religious institutions. The problem has been that certain religiously affiliated for-profit, and non-profit organizations are not covered by the exemption, as they do not meet the requirements to be considered a religious organization.
Religiously conservative opponents of the mandate, with values that do not support the use of contraception, believe that they, as employers, are forced by the government to violate their religious conscious, which impeaches on their constitutional right of religious freedom. Supporters of the mandate believe that upholding it enforces the freedom, privacy, and gender equality of women to exercise their civil liberties.
From a macro perspective the question at hand is whether or not the rights of the individual should prevail over the rights of corporations to exercise religious freedom. Should corporations be required to comply with the contraception mandate? From a micro perspective, the question at hand is if the mandate is in breach of the corporations’ constitutional rights and is overturned, do these corporations have a right to impose their religious beliefs on their employees?
When analyzing this controversy it is important to understand the full scope of the laws and legislature that support both sides of the argument. The three key components of this argument are the Contraception Mandate itself and why it is important from a health and societal standpoint; the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which allows for strict legal scrutiny of any law, which has the potential to infringe upon religious freedom; and the First Amendment, which allows for citizens of the United States to practice their religion freely without government interference. According to an article in the Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues, entitled “What is a “Church”?: Implied Consent and the Contraception Mandate” , “74 cases, involving over 200 plaintiffs, already filed against the Department of Health and Human Services.” (404)
The Benefits of Contraceptives and the Contraception Mandate
As mentioned earlier, the Contraception Mandate is a section of the ACA which aims at providing “minimal essential” medical insurance coverage for women. The mandate originated from...