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FACT SHEET: Protecting Birth Control Coverage for Young People

This undated image provided by Bedsider.org shows a package of estrogen/progestin birth control pills. The nation's largest group of obstetricians and gynecologists says birth control pills should be sold over the counter, like condoms. The surprise opinion announced Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 could boost longtime efforts by women's advocates to make the pill more accessible.

CREDIT: AP/Bedsider.org.

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One of the most contested provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been coverage of contraception. Since the passage of the ACA opponents have filed over 100 federal lawsuits challenging the law’s birth control coverage benefit. These lawsuits included challenges from for-profit corporations objecting to the coverage benefit, and non-profit corporations objecting to the “accommodation” created by the Obama Administration that allowed employees of certain non- profits to receive their birth control coverage from insurance companies if the non-profit objects to providing it.

In June 2014, the Supreme Court issued its decision in the cases brought by for-profit corporations Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), holding that certain parts of the health care reform law limited certain companies’ religious exercise. Just before key parts of the ACA were to go into effect on January 1, 2014, Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor issued a stay for several Catholic organizations not to cover birth control for their employees. And in July 2014, the Supreme Court issued a stay for Wheaton College, a religiously affiliated non-profit, allowing it not to cover birth control for its employees either.

For young Americans, the fallout out from these Supreme Court cases and other challenges to birth control coverage is crucial. Young people are disproportionately affected by the high cost of contraception and stand to lose the most if access to basic preventive services is denied and the newly created ‘religious-right-of-corporations’ is applied expansively.

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