The Hobby Lobby Ruling: What It Means for You

In a decision that inspired uproar and passionate discussion, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that Hobby Lobby, a craft store managed by a Christian family, and all other family-owned corporations cannot legally be asked to pay for insurance coverage for contraceptives that violate religious freedom, according to the New York Times.

According to CNN, Hobby Lobby opposes only four of the 20 methods of contraception that the Affordable Care Act required them to cover. These four are what the family behind Hobby Lobby deems “abortive products,” such as Plan B and intrauterine devices (IUDs). Birth control pills are, therefore, still covered.


In this Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of the craft store and another Christian family-owned corporation, Conestoga Wood Specialties. Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the majority opinion, said that “the requirement that the two companies provide contraception coverage imposed a substantial burden on their religious liberty,” according to the New York Times.


Those on the opposing side, however, fear the implications of the decision. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote what Mother Jones called “a blistering dissent.”

“The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield,” Justice Ginsberg wrote. She included several other key points, including the concerns about the cost of contraceptive measures like the IUD relative to a minimum wage salary; a woman’s choice that is informed not just by her physician but by her employer; and the idea that women may be influenced by the religious beliefs of her employer, a for-profit corporation. Plus, Ginsberg warns that this precedent could impact future rulings on a for-profit company's requirement to cover insurance for other medications and medical services such as antidepressants and anesthesia.


Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also expressed concerns about the Supreme Court decision. According to TIME, Clinton called the decision “a really bad slippery slope.” She also said, “It’s very troubling that a sales clerk at Hobby Lobby who needs contraception, which is pretty expensive, is not going to get that service through her employer’s health care plan because her employer doesn’t think she should be using contraception.”

According to NBC News, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, "It is our view ... that Congress needs to take action to solve this problem that's been created and the administration stands ready to work with them to do so.”


So how does this ruling affect you, collegiettes? According to ThinkProgress, if you work for Hobby Lobby or Conestoga Wood Specialties, you will now have to pay out of pocket for Plan B, Ella, or an IUD. If you work at one of the 48 other for-profit companies whose lawsuits against the contraceptive converage provision are still pending, your health care plan could also be affected in the future now that the Supreme Court has set this precedent. If you’re not affiliated, stay tuned—there could be another lawsuit in the works, and no matter where you work, issues around reproductive rights are pertinent to the lives of all women.