Universal Life Church Case Law
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The Great Debate: Religion and Contraception

June 22nd, 2017

PillsThere are few subjects that are more polarizing than the debate over the legality and use of contraception. It is for this reason that any decision from the country’s highest authority will be highly anticipated and then greatly debated itself. Knowing a  little history of the controversy surrounding contraception use in the United States can be helpful, but it is also important to understand the argument from both sides, legal and religious.  

Religious Freedom

Two words have never been uttered so much as these two that immediately tend to give confidence and bravado to those who speak them. This is not without reason, as the Constitution expresses the will of our founders that all religious individuals are protected from governmental tyranny.  In its body and amendments, the Supreme Law of the Land provides citizens with the freedom to practice their beliefs and to gather with like minded individuals, all without the hindrance and oppression from a government endorsed “one religion.” These protections have been found time and again throughout our country’s legal history to wrap themselves around individuals as they faced down overzealous bureaucrats who wish to overstep their authority.

“New” Controversy

The Supreme Court of the United States is tasked with making decisions involving cases and controversies that the lower courts cannot decide on their own. Either due to a novel interpretation of an old law or the natural societal changes that require new laws and matters of first impression, the Court carries the burden of making the final, albeit often controversial, decision.

The latest issue before the highest court stems from the latter of these reasons, or more specifically, the Affordable Care Act. Through the passing of this legislation, the government made it mandatory for most employers to provide certain levels of healthcare to their employees.  Part of this mandate was that those employers who did not fit the religious exemption were required to include paying for contraception in their health coverage. Any employer who was linked to a religious entity such as hospitals, schools, or nursing homes (in the most recent case) were provided an accommodation from the law if they made their religious objections known.  According to the lawsuit filed by an order of nuns from Maryland, this accommodation was insufficient as in their minds it still made them a participant in the healthcare plan that covered contraception, even though they were free from the mandate to pay for it. 

The question before the Supreme Court is key to determining how much coverage a semi-religious employer must provide to their employees. The broader issue, however, is one that will resonate far into the future. Specifically, how far is the reach of the Constitutional protection of religion? Will it be expanded to not only protect personal freedoms, but allow those personal freedoms to impact others, as well? The United Life Church Case Law will watch this controversy closely and monitor the Supreme Court’s decision so as to provide a better understanding through discussion of these hot button topics and ensure that all our guaranteed freedoms are protected from imposition by law.

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