Government, religious employers no closer to contraception consensus

The federal government and religiously affiliated organizations don't appear any closer to finding a compromise for contraception coverage following several rounds of legal briefs submitted to the Supreme Court.

During opening arguments for Zubik v. Burwell in March, religious leaders argued the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate, and the exemptions created by the federal government, violates a decade-old religious freedom law. In an effort to avoid a split decision, Supreme Court justices took the unusual step of requesting both sides submit briefs outlining a potential compromise.

In their initial proposal submitted last week, religious leaders suggested a scenario in which insurance companies would create separate birth control plans, while the government largely maintained the current exemptions were satisfactory.

Responses submitted by both sides on Tuesday revealed neither was close to a compromise. The petitioners chastised the government for its inflexibility, and in their response, government attorneys called the proposal to create separate contraception plans "unworkable" and "profoundly flawed."

Current exemptions, created after the Supreme Court struck down the birth control mandate for closely held companies in 2014, allow religiously affiliated organizations to notify the government that they object to contraception coverage and shift the cost to health insurers.

To learn more:
- read the petitioner's original brief and response
- here's the governments original brief and response