Topics: UAE and Russia milestones for women in air and space, illegal contraception co-pays in the US, death penalty in Kenya case, Big Ideas in voting and internet technology, Thai government’s food robot. People: Bill, Persephone, Nate. Produced: September 29th, 2014.
– The 1st UAE female combat pilot, the 4th female cosmonaut, CVS charging illegal co-pays on contraception, and more
– Big Idea: Could the U.S. use the goal of secure internet voting as a moonshot project to strengthen internet security in general? What interim measures should be taken to make voting easier?
– Why Thailand’s government is trying to build a robot to measure Thai food authenticity
This is an issue we talk a lot about on the show, in large part because it doesn’t get nearly enough coverage in the traditional media. The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to take up another case in the right-to-choose debate, this time on birth control and the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).
The precise question before the court is whether for-profit corporations can claim a religious freedom exception to the contraception mandate—the requirement under Obamacare that employers offer contraception coverage as part of health insurance for their employees. Exceptions already exist for religious organizations, for certain religiously affiliated nonprofits, for grandfathered employers, and for profit-seeking corporations with fewer than 50 employees. But no such exception exists for large companies. As a result, some corporations controlled by owners with religious objections to contraception have sued, contending that religious freedom laws exempt them from the contraception mandate.
All I can say is that the Supreme Court had better not screw this up. If we have an employer-based health care system in this country, which almost everyone in government seems committed to continuing, we can’t just let any old corporation start applying the personal beliefs of senior management to every employee and their family members. That’s utterly absurd.
Contraception is extremely expensive relative to many other health services. For basic access, many American women will be counting on the ACA’s requirement that insurance plans cover it. Non-religious companies should have no say in what the plans cover because it’s none of their business what health services their employees need access to. So the Court needs to uphold the coverage mandate or else we need a non-employer-based health care system, and clearly the latter isn’t going to happen.
The rest of the article linked above explains, in more depth, how the line of reasoning argued by the company in question went mainstream — essentially hijacking the already strained people-have-free-speech/corporations-are-people arguments upheld in the Citizens United decision and attempting to re-apply it here even when it’s a pretty different context.