For much of 2012, congressional Republicans have pushed back aggressively against the preventive care measures in the Affordable Care Act, driven entirely by the right's opposition to contraception access. In the Senate, we saw the odious Blunt Amendment reach the floor, and in the House, GOP lawmakers vowed to block implementation of the provision.
At least, that was the case a few months ago. With the Obama administration's rule set to take effect this week, Republicans' interest in the issue has faded. GOP officials are still opposed to the birth-control measures of the ACA, but unlike in the Spring, there's a limit as to how far Republican leaders are prepared to go with this.
There is, however, a parallel track involving the judiciary. While lawmakers on Capitol Hill have all but given up on blocking access to contraception, fearing a public backlash, opponents of the policy are pushing forward in the courts, and late on Friday, they even won a round -- Irin Carmon reported that a federal judge issued an injunction exempting the Catholic owners of a Colorado company from the contraception requirement.
It was the first legal victory for conservative opponents of the Obama administration's policy, but as Sarah Kliff noted, it's a limited win, at least for now.
It's not yet, however, exactly a victory for the contraceptive mandate's opponents: The injunction is specific to that one company, and it holds only until the judge can reach a verdict on the case's merits. Still, it could mark the start of a long period of litigation involving one of the health-care law's most polarizing provisions.
Hercules v. Sebelius is a case brought by Hercules Industries, a Colorado-based air-conditioning company. The four siblings who own the business say they oppose contraceptives -- such medications are not included in their current health coverage plan -- and "seek to run Hercules in a manner that reflects their sincerely-held religious beliefs." [...]
Religious institutions that primarily serve individuals of their own faith got a one-year reprieve. Hercules, as an air-conditioning company, did not fall into that category.
The judge in this case sided with the plaintiffs, saying the contraception coverage may very well impose a "substantial burden" on Hercules Industries' owners ability to practice their religion. Of course, by this reasoning, private business owners, citing "sincerely-held religious beliefs," would also be able to block STD screenings, prenatal care, mental health coverage, drug treatment, and immunizations, all due to faith-based objections.
The preventive care protections kick in on Wednesday, Aug. 1.