WASHINGTON, Jan. 1 -- The Planned Parenthood Federation of America issued the following news release:
Planned Parenthood Federation of America released the following statement in response to last night's announcement that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has temporarily blocked implementation of portions of the Affordable Care Act's birth control benefit. The temporary order suspends the birth control benefit requirement for a group of religiously affiliated organizations. An exemption from offering birth control coverage is already available to these organizations; this case is about their objection to having to sign a form by which they can opt-out of the benefit under an accommodation the Department of Health and Human Services developed last year. The temporary stay will be in place until the Department of Justice responds to the organizations' request for a longer suspension of the requirement, and the Court has an opportunity to review all of the legal filings.
Separate from the stay issued at the request of religiously affiliated organizations, the Supreme Court is already set to hear two cases brought by for-profit corporations without any religious focus, whose owners want to deny coverage for birth control because of their own personal views.
Following is a statement issued by Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
"Birth control is basic preventive health care for women. Birth control enables millions of women to support themselves financially, complete their education, and plan their families and have children when they're ready.
"The Affordable Care Act ensures that women can access birth control without co-pays no matter where they work, just like any other kind of preventive care. Religiously affiliated organizations, including the two that filed this emergency appeal at the Supreme Court, are already able to get an exemption so that they aren't paying for or administrating coverage of birth control if it violates their religious mission. This exemption ensures that women can get access to affordable birth control no matter where their work, while also addressing the concerns of religiously affiliated organizations.
"As the nation's leading women's health care provider and advocate, Planned Parenthood has led the charge for access to contraception for nearly a century and we'll continue to fight to make sure women get the care they need, no matter what."
After decades of discriminatory coverage by insurance companies, the birth control benefit requires all insurance policies to cover birth control with no out-of-pocket cost to women - because it's part of preventive care.
That preventive care -- as decided by the independent Institute of Medicine -- includes birth control as well as other treatment such as wellness visits, cancer screenings, and vaccinations.
The current benefit includes an expansive religious exemption, allowing approximately 350,000 churches, religious schools, and houses of worship to refuse to provide this benefit to their employees, under their right to religious freedom under the First Amendment. Corporations and other for-profit businesses are not exempt under current law.
Two separate challenges to the benefit, filed by Hobbly Lobby (a chain of craft stores) and Conestoga Woods (a woodworking business) are asking the Supreme Court to exempt private, for-profit businesses from the birth control benefit. Those cases are unrelated to the emergency appeal at issue this week, and the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in those private corporations' cases this Spring.
You can read a white paper providing background on the birth control benefit and what's at stake in the Supreme Court case here.( http://plannedparenthoodaction.org/files/9213/8507/0429/PPFA_WhitePaper_FINAL.pdf)
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