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ACA Contraceptive Mandate

ACA Contraception Mandate Focus of MLaw Talk

By Lori Atherton
March 19, 2013

Michigan Law students had an opportunity to learn more about the Affordable Care Act's Contraception Coverage Mandate during a lunchtime talk Monday presented by law and religion expert Frederick Gedicks. Gedicks, the Guy Anderson Chair and Professor of Law at Brigham Young University, spoke about his forthcoming article, "With Religious Liberty for All: A Defense of the Affordable Care Act's Contraception Coverage Mandate."

The contraceptive mandate requires that most employers provide birth control to female employees at no additional cost (including deductibles and co-payments). Churches are exempt from the mandate, and religiously affiliated organizations that are not churches, such as schools and hospitals, are allowed to opt out of directly paying for contraception coverage. The cost of coverage, in those cases, would be paid for by the insurer.

"You hear a lot about religious freedom and the mandate, but it always seems to be on one side," Prof. Gedicks said. "It's always religious employers, churches, and religions arguing that the mandate infringes on their religious liberties, but there is liberty on both sides of this issue.

"There are at least two liberties at stake here for employees of religious employers," Prof. Gedicks noted. "The liberty to live free from the burden of religious beliefs that one does not share, and the liberty to take advantage of the important statutory entitlement of no-cost contraceptives as part of the Affordable Care Act."

In his paper, Prof. Gedicks argues that the mandate is a "'religiously neutral, generally applicable' law that does not discriminate against religious employers…and does not 'substantially' burden the free exercise of religion by nonexempt religious employers."

Prof. Gedick's talk was presented by Michigan Law's American Constitution Society and cosponsored by Law Students for Reproductive Justice, the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, Michigan Health Law Organization, and the Women Law Students Association.

Download Prof. Gedick's paper from SSRN.

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