In fact, the Court’s decisions in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Harris v. Quinn conform to an established pattern for the Roberts Court. It’s generally a two-step process: in confronting a politically charged issue, the court first decides a case in a “narrow” way, but then uses that decision as a precedent to move in a more dramatic, conservative direction in a subsequent case.
Little Sisters of the Poor, an organization of Catholic nuns, and several other religious nonprofits have also sued against the contraception mandate even though they qualify for the accommodation, because they believe it does not do enough to separate them from the act of covering birth control. The accommodation says religious nonprofits can fill out a form directing a third-party insurer to pay for the coverage instead of the objecting employer, but the religious groups argue that even filling out a form violates their beliefs.
Alito deliberately left the door open for a ruling either way on the merits of the religious accommodation. "We do not decide today whether an approach of this type complies with [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] for purposes of all religious claims," Alito wrote. "At a minimum, however, it does not impinge on the plaintiffs’ religious belief that providing insurance coverage for the contraceptives at issue here violates their religion, and it serves HHS’s stated interests equally well."
But Kennedy, who would likely be the swing vote in a future ruling in the Little Sisters case, indicated in his concurring opinion on Monday that he would be more sympathetic to the administration han the religious groups on that particular debate.
Though many Americans consider pregnancy prevention a compelling enough public health justification to cover the cost of such contraceptives, the ramifications of the Supreme Court's decision could also affect women who use birth control for other medical reasons.* MEN, YOU"RE OK: Many have asked, what about vasectomies and Viagra, a procedure and pill directly and indirectly related to reproduction. Sex IS only for procreation, right? Some churches' doctrine looks askance at tubal ligations for women, for example. Says here that Hobby Lobby continues to cover vasectomies and treatment for erectile dysfunction (presumably including for unmarried men.)
In 2011, the Guttmacher Institute estimated that roughly 14 percent of birth control users rely on birth control exclusively for non-contraceptive purposes. Some 1.5 million women use birth control to help with medical issues such as ovarian cancer, ovarian cysts, endometriosis and endometrial cancer.
Guttmacher also found that more than 58 percent of all birth control users cite other medical issues in addition to pregnancy prevention, listing reasons such as reducing cramps or menstrual pain, preventing migraines and other menstruation side effects, and treating acne.