The White House has quickly converted the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision into a campaign-trail wedge issue, by calling on Congress to continue providing abortion-related drugs to a small number of women who work for Catholic employers.
Because of the court’s decision, women “no longer have access to free contraception coverage… simply because of the religious views held by their bosses,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
“That’s the problem we want Congress to fix,” he said, effectively setting the stage for Democrats to blame GOP legislators in the run-up to the November election. That pitch is likely aimed at Democratic-leaning young unmarried women, who are less likely to vote in midyear elections.
Earnest underlined the campaign theme by repeatedly describing women as helpless victims of their “bosses.”
In practice, the decision does not hinder the relatively few women effected by this narrow decision from buying contraception services or abortion services on the free market.
Earnest declined to estimate how many women lose access to abortion-related services by the decision.
The court announced June 30 that a bipartisan 1993 law trumps President Barack Obama’s 2012 regulation that directed employers to provide free abortion-related drugs and services to their employees.
The law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), requires that regulatory agencies minimize the impact of regulations on Americans’ religious freedom.
Obama’s regulation, however, directed that even the religiously observant Catholics help deliver contraceptive and abortion-related services to their employees.
Justice Samuel Alito’s decision still means “there were plenty of other ways for the government to provide the drugs and devices in question to women who wanted them without forcing private family businesses to violate their convictions,” reads a statement from the conservative Heritage Foundation.
The court’s decision was not based on constitutional rules, but on the fact that regulations must comply with laws.
“The decision today applies only to the coercive Obamacare rule that was threatening the religious freedom of [two] family businesses,” the statement continued.
“Other claims for religious exemptions by closely-held family businesses from other laws will have to be litigated on a case-by-case basis [and] RFRA doesn’t provide a blank check for religious believers to do whatever they want in the name of religion and neither does today’s decision,” said the Heritage statement.