The effects of Hobby Lobby on the Affordable Care Act

The Court's decision is extremely narrow and applies only to closely-held companies

Hobby Lobby is a closely-held, Oklahoma-based corporation and is owned exclusively by a family. The wholly-owned, family corporation provided insurance to its employees which included 16 methods of birth control as part of its health care plan at no charge. The regulation in question, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), requires ACA-covered employers to provide 20 types of birth control, including four which may prevent an already fertilized egg from developing further (abortifacients), certain intrauterine devices (IUDs) and what is commonly referred to as the “morning after” pill. For religious reasons, Hobby Lobby objected to paying for four types of contraception known as abortifacients.

Hobby Lobby filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to restrain the enforcement of the HHS regulation against it only as it pertained to the four methods of contraception which it found to be objectionable because of its religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby's opposition was based upon the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA). The RFRA prohibits the “Government [from] substantially burden[ing] a person's exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability” unless the government “demonstrates that application of the burden to the person (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”

Contributing Author

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Kimberly James

Kimberly James is Of Counsel in the Houston office of McGlinchey Stafford . Kim handles labor and employment law, as well as other general business...

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