Wisconsin News

Supreme Court set to hear challenges against birth control mandate

Business owners say covering Plan B is against Christian beliefs

Supreme Court set to hear challenges against birth control mandate

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear two cases challenging President Barack Obama's health care reform law because two business owners say it goes against their religious beliefs.

The Affordable Care Act requires businesses of a certain size to provide insurance benefits for birth control and other preventative care measures without a co-pay.

However, two different companies have filed lawsuits against that portion of the law, saying they only want to provide certain birth control options based on their Christian values.

According to the Hobby Lobby website, customers and employees are committed to "Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles."

Principles that the Christian-based craft store Hobby Lobby said the Affordable Care Act goes against.

Under current law, health plans must offer a range of services, including all forms of birth control.

However, CEO David Green says it goes against the Hobby Lobby's Christian values.

"Religious beliefs prohibit them from providing health coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices that end human life after conception," said Green.

"If you would take religion out of it and look at it purely from science, science will tell you that the moment of conception creates a distinct being. Everything that it's going to be is there at the moment of conception so it has to be human life," said Monsignor Charles Stoetzel, a rector at Saint Joseph The Workman Cathedral.

Therefore, the family-owned business is opposed to providing birth control methods, such as Plan B, that work after an egg has already been fertilized.

"Plan B works by basically preventing the fertilization of an egg from occurring. It can also prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterus," said Gretchen Kunze, the manager of Cass Street Pharmacy.

But the company is willing to cover other methods such as oral contraception.

"Normal birth control just prevents ovulation from occurring all together," said Kunze. "So no egg is released from the ovaries, and if no egg is available for the sperm to meet, no fertilization occurs."

However, the Obama administration argues that the birth control mandate is important because it allows women to choose a method of contraception based on what's best for them, rather than on money.

The Supreme Court will hear both arguments on Tuesday. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the administration, companies that refuse to give employees comprehensive health care coverage could face fines of up to $100 every day for each employee.

A ruling is expected by late June.

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