The Supreme Court has put a temporary halt on the contraception coverage required by the Affordable Care Act, that was due to go into effect today.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted the stay after a petition by the Little Sisters of the Poor in Colorado. The organization runs elderly care homes around the country, and the stay applies to other Roman Catholic non-profit groups who share a health plan, known as the Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust.
The Affordable Care Act requires that employers provide free contraception in health care plans. Religious groups objected to that requirement, and the administration responded by exempting churches from that requirement.
The administration has also offered a further compromise for religious non-profits, allowing them to omit contraception coverage. Health insurers would then offer separate contraception plans to those employees without any additional charge.
However, Mark Rienzi, the lead attorney for the Little Sisters for the Poor says that the government requiring the sisters to provide that authorization is impinging on their religious liberties.
“The lower courts hadn’t given relief to the Little Sisters and so they would have been forced by the government to sign forms authorizing payments for contraception and abortion inducing drugs, and it shouldn’t surprise anybody that nuns have religious objections to signing forms like that,” Rienzi told Here & Now‘s Robin Young. “The Sisters cannot simply designate people to provide abortion drugs.”
Here & Now‘s Meghna Chakrabarti then turns to NPR’s justice correspondent Carrie Johnson on the legal action against this particular provision of the healthcare law.