These 18 For-Profit Companies Are Fighting to Eliminate the Birth Control Benefit

Eighteen for-profit companies are trying to wiggle out of compliance with the birth control benefit, and are doing so based on misleading scientific and legal claims. One claim — that the birth control benefit requires organizations to cover “abortifacients” or “abortion-inducing” drugs — is horseshit. The pill, Plan B, and Ella prevent fertilization and do not “abort” already fertilized eggs. Another claim — that the birth control benefit infringes on for-profit company’s religious freedom is legally unsound: the birth-control benefit does not represent a substantial burden to individuals’ exercise of religion. (Of course, that’s my opinion and the opinion of a handful of courts — it has yet to be litigated by the Supremes.)

Via Jodi Jacobson at RH Reality Check:

Eighteen for-profit companies have filed lawsuits to avoid complying with the the birth control benefit in theAffordable Care Act (ACA), which requires that all insurance policies cover birth control without a co-payas part of preventive care. Oftenmisleadingly characterized as mandating “free birth control,” the ACA, otherwise known as Obamacare, requires that all insurance policies cover all forms of basic preventive care without a co-pay, including well-woman, well-baby, and well-child visits, as well as other basic prevention care for men and women. This coverage is intended to save costs and promote public health.

Basic preventive reproductive and sexual health-care services, including contraception, are therefore also covered without a co-pay; as part of the mandate, all insurance plans must provide coverage without a co-pay for all methods of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Employees earn their salaries and their benefits, and many pay for all or a portion of their health-care premiums out of their salaries. As such, none of this coverage is “free,” but is rather covered by the policies they are earning or for which they are paying.

Nonetheless, the 18 companies that have sued to overturn the birth control benefit are doing so based on several misleading claims. One is that providing insurance policies that cover birth control violates the “religious freedom” of the companies’ owners. It is difficult to see how a critical public health intervention accessed through an employee’s health plan violates the religious freedom of the owner of the company. In fact, the reverse seems to be true; not allowing an employee to access coverage he or she has earned would appear to violate the employee’s freedoms, first and foremost.

The owners of these companies share the belief that a woman is pregnant as soon as there is a fertilized egg (the medical definition of pregnancy is successful implantation of an embryo in the uterine wall) and that a fertilized egg has the same rights as a born person. They also claim that the ACA forces them to cover “abortifacients,” with most pointing to emergency contraception methods such as Plan B to make their case. Emergency contraception, however, is just that: Contraception. It prevents ovulation, and therefore fertilization, and does not work after an egg has been fertilized.

These lawsuits, now in various phases of litigation, are posing a critical challenge not only to the Affordable Care Act, but ultimately to the ability of all people to make the most profoundly personal decisions about whether, when, and under what circumstances to have a child and build a family.

Below is a list of these companies and the status of their cases. And Planned Parenthood Federation of America has launched a campaign enabling you to tell these companies what you think.

Click through for a full list of the companies, sign the Planned Parenthood petition, and then go outside and yell at the sky. Or something. (Just a suggestion.)

[via RH Reality Check]

38 replies
  1. 1
    sparrow says:

    I just re-read Bob Altemeier’s “The Authoritarians”… he points out that Right Wing Authoritarians (i.e. wingnuts) not only suck at logic and reasoning, but they don’t care that they suck. If they like the outcome, the reasoning MUST be good. This is a good example of that. It hurts women, poors in particular, which gives then a stiffy, so it must be a Good Thing, and any ridiculous argument behind it is True and Correct.

  2. 2
    The Moar You Know says:

    Never heard of a single one of these companies save for Hobby Lobby.

  3. 3
    Hypatia's Momma says:

    @The Moar You Know:
    You’ve never heard of Domino’s Pizza?

  4. 4
    c u n d gulag says:

    I’m an OppoRandian, and my religion calls for the daily execution of a high-level business executive, two on Sundays, as a sacrifice to my God – Iain’t Rand.

    And mandatory pot smoking, with NO drug-testing.

    Why doesn’t the government create an exemption for me to practice MY religion?

  5. 5
    Epicurus says:

    I have not knowingly done business with any of these companies, but I can assure you, I will withhold my funds from them if they do come calling. It’s about time we stop interfering in women’s medical care and choices…well past, I should say.

  6. 6
    22over7 says:

    Wow, look at all those old white guys…

  7. 7
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Hmmm, boner pills are covered without any objections from these titans of industry. That proves again the old adage that it’s better to be the fucker than the fuckee.

  8. 8
    Yutsano says:

    I thought all these suits were already dismissed due to lack of standing. Nevertheless I’m just tired of this shit. Just suck it up champs, the wimmins are gonna control the birthin of their bebehs.

  9. 9
    geg6 says:

    @c u n d gulag:

    I find your religion intriguing and would like to subscribe to its newsletter.

  10. 10
    El Cid says:

    The way I understand it, as doctors tell me, if it’s legitimate intercourse, the woman has all sorts of magic ways of shuttin’ that whole thing down.

  11. 11
    rikyrah says:

    thanks for the info, ABL

  12. 12

    Freedom expands choice, choices expand freedom

    One feature of Obamacare is the minimal definition of an insurance policy. (Without such definition, the Republican notion of interstate policy sales is a foolish surefire disaster.) Pregnancy is a medical condition; the ability to manage pregnancy is important. Being pregnant only when desired is certainly an aspect of management. A healthy planned pregnancy and subsequent healthy child is in society’s interests; hence the coverage in minimum definition.

    It’s an unfortunate post-WWII fluke that most Americans are insured through their employment – unlike most of the world. The employer offers the policy – not the care. The policy has coverages used or not used at covered’s discretion. Since a business cannot discriminate, all kinds of people perhaps work there. These people are presented with opportunities and choice – Freedom!

    A religious organization is free to have rules; their followers are also free to follow or not. A business follows civic laws that guarantee Freedom. Jobs are open to all religions. Religions are free to have policies. People are free to join a religion or not, and further, free to follow at their own level. Freedom all around.

    Republicans are making a phoney issue here. Freedom, defined as choice and opportunity, is being expanded.

  13. 13
    blondie says:

    I wonder if the employees of these companies could intervene in this lawsuits, arguing the employers should be enjoined from refusing to comply with the ACA’s requirement of insurance coverage for birth control on the basis that the employers’ imposition of their own religious standards upon their employees violates Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination on the basis of religion in the workplace.

    I’ve never heard of such a thing, but …

  14. 14
    Chris says:


    Haven’t read “The Authoritarians” except in bits and pieces, but I think the main thing with these guys is that they’re not after material self-interest in the sense that we understand the term; they’re about power and status. It’s not illogical per se; the things they support are logical in the sense that they achieve their goals, it’s just that what they want out of life isn’t the same as what you or I want.

    Hence why, for example, when liberals ask “don’t they realize they’re going to end up turning us into a third world country;” well, I think at least some of them do realize it, and consider it a feature, not a bug. They might not be as rich in such a society as they would be in a healthy industrialized middle-class democracy, but their power and status relative to the masses would be much greater, and that’s what they really care about.

  15. 15
    Mnemosyne says:

    I still don’t understand how it is that the First Amendment protects the religious rights of corporations but not of, you know, actual people.

  16. 16
    Punchy says:

    Mizzou says that pretty much any health care provider can deny a patient pretty much any treatment they don’t agree with. But because Freedom of Religion (or is it “Freedom Or Religion”?) is so sacrosanct, none of it applies if it’s an emergency.

    In summary, religious rights trump patient health and safety, up until one’s about to get sued for malpractice, then fuck religion and grab a coathanger. Thanks, MO, you cesspool of dumbfuckery.

  17. 17

    I’m stunned at all of the companies helmed by people of color and women.

    Just kidding.

  18. 18
    scav says:

    Seriously, don’t the stricter forms of Christianity and Islam not allow usury? Is there a Religious, Freedom! (angel choirs appear singing hosannahs and court briefs!) case to be made against the existence of banks and hedge funds et al?

  19. 19
    peach flavored shampoo says:

    @blondie: I was thinking the same thing. How does the CEO’s religion automatically become the de facto religion of the entire company? And if Fundys are so deep into their religion, why are so many of them open on Sundays, forcing their employees to miss church?

  20. 20
    Xenos says:

    They are going after Plan B because it is, essentially, the same treatment as the pill, just with different dosage. Once they succeed in getting a a waiver for having medical insurance cover Plan B (under the dishonest claim that it is an abortifacient) they will immediately turn around and claim that the waiver extends to the pill, as they are the same thing, just different dosages.

    Then it will be legal for employers to block you from buying the pill on your medical insurance. This is the goal – to make all contraception unavailable.

  21. 21
    Chris says:


    It’s supposed to be inconsistent. They believe the Bible (or the Koran as the case may be) should be applied rigorously as civil law in matters of Keeping The Uppity Sluts And Queens In Their Place, but they invoke freedom of religion if you ever try to use the same Bible to regulate the behavior of straight white men, especially rich straight white men. So do they believe in theocracy, or freedom of religion? Neither, and both, depending on what’s convenient.

    (There are rationalizations out there that try to reconcile the two, but usually pretty weak ones. The one my uncle threw out at me was that churches are important in terms of regulating personal behavior and morality, but they know little about economics and so shouldn’t get involved there. Apparently, nothing that’s done in the economic sphere touches on “personal morality,” and apparently, the fact that the church has no more expertise in biology or psychology than they do in economics doesn’t matter when they’re talking about abortion and gay rights).

  22. 22
    Chris says:

    @peach flavored shampoo:

    Makes sense actually, considering that in the wingnut mind, the CEO IS the company; the rest are just cogs in his machine that he hired out of his good graces cause he’s such a swell guy.

  23. 23

    @Richard W. Crews:
    No, freedom is really actually being curtailed. Remember that many freedoms are give and take. Their freedom to be assholes to their employees has been reduced, and it IS a freedom, it’s just not an admirable one. Yes, their employees get more freedom, but the Galtian Overlord DOES lose some freedom. This is important to them because they’ve realized their freedom to live in the world where everyone votes for Ronald Reagan and would never vote for a black man for President is gone. That is also a freedom, a freedom to never have their preconceptions challenged by anyone, ever.

    Trace any wingnut claim of losing freedom, see if it doesn’t come back to this.

  24. 24
    scav says:

    @Chris: My faith in the self-serving duplicity of many religious justifications is so well fed.

  25. 25
    Chris says:


    Well just for dessert, here’s another thing that occurred to me after it was too late to ETA:

    Even in very religious societies (those that have official state religions and consider religion a basis for law), the clergy and religious authorities are very rarely the only authorities, or even the ultimate authorities. There are other elites they have to live with, and the live-and-let-live arrangement can include giving them a pass and turning a blind eye to their activities even if they contradict church teachings. In the old days, that was the monarchy and aristocracy. In the last two hundred years, the upper bourgeoisie has managed to push itself into becoming one of the partners (in the most advanced countries like America or Britain, usually the senior partner), so now, the conservative Christian churches do for them what they used to do for kings and noblemen.

  26. 26
    TooManyJens says:

    @Xenos: The ironic thing is that there is solid evidence against Plan B being abortifacient; more solid evidence than in the case of the regular Pill, because for Plan B the question has been specifically addressed in recent, well designed studies. (There is good reason to believe that the regular Pill is not abortifacient either, but the same types of studies haven’t been done.)

  27. 27
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    When was Mammon canonized?

  28. 28

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:
    When it became unacceptable to refer to the people they hate as anything more direct than ‘poor inner-city residents’.

  29. 29
    El Cid says:

    @peach flavored shampoo:

    How does the CEO’s religion automatically become the de facto religion of the entire company?

    Transubstantiation. It occurs instantaneously the minute any paycheck is signed under his chiefly authority.

  30. 30
    IowaOldLady says:

    Few things infuriate me as much as the Church of Hobby Lobby laying down the rules for the rest of us.

  31. 31
    Mnemosyne says:


    Yep — everything I’ve ever heard from every current medical and scientific source says that Plan B works by suppressing ovulation and that if ovulation has already occurred, you’re probably SOL.

    I would like the wingnuts to explain why preventing the sperm and egg from meeting is “an abortion,” but they’ll just look at you like a not-very-bright dog and keep barking, “Abortifacient! Abortifacient!” I’m not even sure they know what it means at this point.

  32. 32
    Beauzeaux says:

    @c u n d gulag: Sign me up.

  33. 33
    Xenos says:


    I would like the wingnuts to explain why preventing the sperm and egg from meeting is “an abortion,” but they’ll just look at you like a not-very-bright dog and keep barking, “Abortifacient! Abortifacient!” I’m not even sure they know what it means at this point.

    I have had this conversation… it does not end well. The point was that as long as there is some theoretical chance that the pill could be acting as an abortifacient, then the morally right thing to do is to forbid it. Otherwise, if indeed it never is an abortifacient, then “no harm done in any case.”

    Yes, depriving 100 million women access to birth control is, to the wingnut Catholic mind, “no harm done.” Less harm, at least, than a single pre-implantation baby-killing.

  34. 34
    kwAwk says:

    A few things on this issue…..

    1) If an employee of one of these companies uses their wages to buy a dosage of Plan B contraceptive, would by the reasoning of most all of these companies, the owners of the companies be just as morally culpable?

    2) Doesn’t sex inherently require the killing of millions of cells?

    3) If the Catholics win on this issue, couldn’t a Christian Scientist be justified in saying that they don’t have to provide medical insurance at all since they believe it is immoral? Could a Scientologist refuse mental health benefits? Could a Jahovah’s Witness refuse to cover blood transfusions?

    4) Sure seems like single payer could help alleviate all of the conflicted Catholics of the heavy weight on their conciences ehh?

  35. 35
    Stella B. says:

    Apparently some men believe that life begins at ejaculation.

  36. 36
    Nutella says:

    How much of this is authoritarians throwing their weight around, or woman haters making sure sluts will always be burdened by the maximum number of babies, or another step in weaseling out of paying their fair share of taxes I don’t know. Probably some of each.

    I hope Autocam gets LOTS of publicity for this and their not paying a nickel in property taxes is prominently mentioned all over Michigan.

  37. 37
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Great post, ABL (per usual). And kudos to Planned Parenthood for trying to fight back by publicizing this issue.

  38. 38
    Blogreeder says:

    Eighteen for-profit companies…

    Really, where do you people COME from? I thought all the hippy communes were gone. Must be an special enclave somewhere.

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