On Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed to review two challenges to Obamacare’s birth control provision, which provides women with insurance coverage for a range of preventative health services at no additional charge to them. The cases concern two private business owners who believe they should be exempt from the health law’s requirement to offer birth control coverage to their workers because of their religious beliefs. Depending on how the justices rule, for-profit companies may gain the right to deny any type of health service to their employees under a broadened definition of religious freedom — like vaccines, blood transfusions, mental health treatment, or end-of-life care.
There’s no telling when the Supreme Court will rule, although a decision is expected sometime between this spring and summer. Here’s what you need to keep in mind in light of the upcoming fight over Obamacare’s birth control coverage:
96 cases have now been filed against Obamacare’s birth control provision, including over 45 cases from for-profit companies that employ workers who may not subscribe to a particular religion. Now, two of those cases will go before the highest court in the country.
About 14,000 people are employed at the two for-profit companies whose cases will be heard by the Supreme Court this year. Hobby Lobby is a chain of crafts stores that has about 500 locations and employs over 13,000 people. Conestoga Wood Specialties is a Pennsylvania-based company that makes furniture and employs about 950 people.
62 million women in the U.S. are currently in their childbearing years. The average U.S. woman wants to have two children, which means she will spend about 30 years of her life trying to prevent pregnancy.
99 percent of women have used birth control at some point in their lives. And nearly 60 percent have used it for a medical reason other than preventing pregnancy, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The most common medical reasons that women need the pill include reducing cramps or menstrual pain, ensuring menstrual regulation, treating acne, and treating endometriosis.
34 percent of women have struggled to afford birth control at some point, which can cost more than $1,000 each year. That number rises even further for younger women, who are more at risk for unintended pregnancy. Fifty five percent of young women have experienced a time when they could not afford to use birth control consistently.
82 percent of U.S. Catholics say they believe that birth control is “morally acceptable,” according to a 2012 Gallup poll. Although the Catholic Church has been one of the most vocal opponents of Obamacare’s birth control provision on religious liberty grounds, surveys have consistently found that the majority of Americans Catholics don’t agree.
27 million women are already benefiting from Obamacare’s birth control benefit, which has been in effect for just over a year. These women now have access to a range of preventative health services — including contraception, HPV vaccinations, mammograms, and domestic violence counseling — at no additional cost to them. That number is expected to eventually rise to 47 million, according to the Health and Human Services Department.
63 percent of women who use birth control say that they rely on contraception to take better care of themselves and their families, according to a recent study from the Guttmacher Institute. Affordable contraception is inextricably linked to women’s economic success, since it allows them to delay having a child while they finish school, pursue a job, and achieve financial independence.
50 percent of all U.S. women between the ages of 26 and 44 got their insurance through their job in 2010, according to Census data. And that doesn’t include the women who receive employer-sponsored insurance as a dependent, like the married women who get coverage through their spouse’s job or the women under 26 who get coverage through their parent’s job. Depending how the Supreme Court rules, all of those women’s benefits could be subject to the religious beliefs of an employer.