It was perhaps inevitable that following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision which solidified the claims of corporations to “enjoy” rights that liberal democracy has been trying to bestow upon people, that some such person-like entity would claim that his (or her?) right to practice religion is violated by government’s efforts to make sure all people are treated equally and fairly. Indeed this has happened, as Ian Millhiser reports on ThinkProgress¸and a US Court of Appeals has lent credence to her (or his?) case. The effort to help insure that people are treated fairly in question is the provision in the Affordable Care Act (the ACA, which I’ll pass on referring to by its pejorative name even though I think it’s bad legislation) that employers of more than 50 people must provide health insurance to all their full-time employees, and that said insurance needs to meet a number of various criteria so that people need not worry excessively about their inability to pay for basic healthcare, and among these criteria is a mandate that certain forms of birth control that are commonly administered as health care service be included.
There are many good, sane reasons why this provision makes sense: birth control is commonly utilized by a vast majority of Americans, particularly women who, because of biology, bear the consequences of not using it; the cost of birth control is much higher for women than for men and women are generally more reliable users of it when it is available; alternatives to providing birth control outside of the medical system are there, but tend to be less reliable and more dangerous; easy access to birth control is the simplest and most cost-effective way to minimize unwanted pregnancies and abortions; birth control for women is inextricably linked to many facets of health care in addition to preventing pregnancy. There are more, I’m sure, but these alone constitute some very compelling reasons why the people, acting through the state, are justified in making sure that access to birth control, for those who choose it or need it, is available to as many people as possible – especially women.