On January 28, 2014, four major medical groups, representing a wide spectrum of health care providers, filed a brief in the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. case currently before the Supreme Court. These four groups, Physicians for Reproductive Health, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Nurses Association, all object to the religious exemption being sought by for-profit companies.
Excerpt from the brief:
Employers’ refusal to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives would increase the cost of health care to women. Some women, particularly lower income women, would be unable to access the most medically appropriate method because of the additional expense. As a result, a private, medical decision that should be made by a woman in consultation with her health care provider would be unduly restricted by the employer. Employers should not be allowed to interfere in the provider-patient relationship in this way. Contraceptive access is critical to the health of women and women should not be denied coverage to which they are otherwise entitled by law based on the religious beliefs of their employer-corporation’s owners.
In short, health care decisions should be made by patients in consultation with their health care providers based on the best interests of the patient. This is possible only when health care providers have the full range of options available to recommend or prescribe in accordance with the individual circumstances of each patient. To allow the personal view of a remote party—the employer of a patient (or the patient’s spouse or guardian)—to play a role in a patient’s medical treatment would undermine the very nature of the patient-provider relationship and would cause wide ranging harms to public health.