The Supreme Court on Monday will issue a ruling the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties cases—the lawsuits in which corporations claim they should be exempt from Obamacare’s birth control mandate, because the owners object to contraception on religious grounds. There are some pretty big legal principles at stake here, particularly when it comes to the First Amendment rights of corporations. Nobody knows for sure how the Justices will rule. (For a good rundown of the possible outcomes, read Irin Carmon at MSNBC.com). But a broad win for Hobby Lobby could have far-reaching repercussions, with employers possibly using religion to justify discrimination and cut other medical benefits.
But, let’s also remember that this case is very much about women’s rights to a very basic form of preventative health care. Critics of the contraception mandate sometimes wonder why it’s necessary. “Condoms are cheap,” the editors of National Review noted a few years ago, when the controversy first started up. But contraception is a significant cost for women to bear alone, and the data shows it. Before the mandate, women paid 68 percent more out of their pockets for health care than men — and contraception is one large part why. Expenses play a role in the decision to go on and off the pill, and many women take oral contraceptives for medical reasons unrelated to preventing pregnancy. IUDs are also covered under Obamacare, and they are far more effective than both the pill and condoms at preventing pregnancy. However, they are also an expensive, thousand-dollar procedure to undertake without insurance coverage.
There’s a reason the medical establishment recommended that birth control be part of the basic package of benefits that all insurance policies cover. When women can control the timing and incidence of pregnancy, it’s good for public health. Of course, that ability is also an important form of freedom—one that's been under assault for a while.
VETERANS AFFAIRS: President Obama will name Bob McDonald, former head of Proctor and Gamble, to take over the troubled V.A. It's not because he knows how to sell toothpaste. It's because he knows how to run a company. (Juliet Eilperin in the Washington Post, among others)
IMMIGRATION: On Monday, Obama will ask Congress for at least $2 billion to deal with the influx of children arriving at the Southern border from Central America. While a new Gallup poll shows there are more Americans who want to see less immigration, when you look at the overall trend, anti-immigration sentiment is still way down.
HEALTH: Lots of people eligible for Medicaid in California haven’t gotten it, because there’s a huge backlog of applications to be processed. (Helen Shen, Kaiser Health News and San Jose Mercury News)
Story we’ll be watching today: Oyez, oyez, we’ll be giving our attention to the Supreme Court at 10 a.m.—and logged onto SCOTUSblog, just like everybody else.
Now at QED: Taylor Malmsheimer gets you ready for the other big Supreme Court decision expected Monday—the one that could devastate the labor movement.