The U.S. Supreme Court decided Monday that some corporations can cite their religious beliefs as a reason to refuse to cover contraceptives in their employee health plans.
President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform, enacted in 2010, said that almost all companies with more than 50 employees must include in their health insurance the subsidy for contraceptives.
By a 5-4 vote, the high court ruled in favor of a case presented in that sense by the arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby, whose owners are evangelical Christians, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, owned by Mennonites.
This decision is the first time the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that for-profit companies can hold religious beliefs under federal law.
It also means the Obama administration must find another way to provide contraceptive methods to women covered by health insurance at companies that claim religious objections to doing so.
The majority held that the decision applies only to closely held firms where there is no essential difference in religious beliefs among the owners.