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New health care laws spark contraceptive controversy

With recent changes to the federal health care program, new controversies arise. Since the federal health care law mandates employers to cover health care, at issue is who is responsible for contraceptive care. Many employers provide health care plans for their employees but due to religious and moral issues, they take issue with the obligation to pay for birth control medications. Some federal courts have ruled the employer has to comply with the requirements, but others disagree, rejecting the claims on the basis of violation of constitutional rights.

The resolution of these will likely head as far as the Supreme Court. One district judge has already questioned the issue surrounding the rights of free exercise. Other rulings seem to be following suit including free birth control, emergency contraception and sterilization.

A pair of brothers who operate a popular food chain have protested having to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees as it goes against their Catholic faith. On the other hand, the corporate offices assert that the companies themselves do not have the right to challenge federal mandates on religious grounds. The brothers plan to take this to the Supreme Court.

Another judge stated that it has been a widely-held tenant since the founding fathers that legislative decisions trump religious ones. The Department of Health and Human Services would not comment but is bracing for a bumpy road ahead. Contraception, along with abortion, the morning-after pill, and other birth control-related efforts, have been among the most criticized components of the new health care law as religious groups continue to raise strong moral concerns.

While the administration is open to some compromise, the underlying concern is that some companies will take advantage of the new law to continue to discriminate against its female workers. This is one focus the Supreme Court is expected to address before the end of the month.

The new health laws are still taking shape. If an employee or employer is not certain what parameters guide employee rights, it is wise to seek help from an individual who can appropriately interpret the new laws and help you apply them to your life, as well as provide protection of your rights on the job.

Source: nytimes.com, "Court Rules Contraception Mandate Infringes on Religious Freedom" Sarah Wheaton, Nov. 01, 2013

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