Family Research Council

Obamacare Drug Mandate Loses, Women Win

By Cathy Ruse Senior Fellow - Legal Studies


Cathy Ruse is Senior Fellow for Legal Studies at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Daily Caller on July 1, 2014.


One of Obamacare's most controversial provisions was just dealt a blow by the Supreme Court: the heavy-handed mandate that forces America's job-creators to buy insurance coverage for a list of the White House's favorite contraceptive drugs and devices, regardless of someone's sincere conscientious objection.

Several cases filed by non-profit groups are still pending, and the win by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood bodes well for them.

But isn't it a bad day for women? The political left has used the Obamacare mandate as a cynical litmus test: Support it and you support women; oppose it and you are at war with them. And look: All the women on the Supreme Court voted in favor of it. That was easy to predict, given their political leanings, but it sure advances the narrative.

If we are going to play identity politics, a more thoughtful look at the "woman angle" tells quite a different story about the mandate.

Soundbites are cheap and easy. Going to court is neither. So a good question to ask is who has actually taken the time and trouble to go to court to stop the mandate? The answer is women.

Of the hundred cases filed against the mandate, many of the plaintiffs are women. There are women who run charities, like the Little Sisters of the Poor, but also women who run family businesses. Nearly one-third of the business plaintiffs in these cases are women. These businesswomen just won, big.

What do women on the bench think about the mandate? Most of them don't like it. So far, women judges in the lower courts have voted to stop the mandate 24 times. In only 15 cases have they voted to let it proceed. Yesterday's votes from the high court don't change the equation.

Surprisingly, even after having been assaulted by the "war on women" rhetoric for two years, the average American woman still holds an unfavorable view of the contraceptive mandate. In poll after poll, more women oppose it than support it.

The mandate forces employers to provide coverage for 20 drugs and devices - four of which can destroy a human embryo. The administration's own legal briefs concede this. Yet free embryo-killers are not the healthcare most American women long for.

In fact, of all the preventative medicine for women, the White House dictated a short list of drugs that must be 100 percent free, and on it are these controversial drugs and contraceptives. The strange priority of these over other drugs has never been fully reported.

Finally, there is the mandate's little-reported incentive for employers to dump their employees' health insurance altogether. Nothing good for women in that.

In order to avoid crippling fines for omitting even one item on the White House list, the mandate tells family business owners to dump their employees into the Obamacare exchanges and pay smaller, though still significant, fines. Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor suggested at oral argument that this was a good arrangement for employers.

But what about the woman employee? She faced the prospect of losing her trusted doctor, her local medical specialist, the dependable pediatrician who has cared for her children all of their lives. Of spiking premiums she can't afford, or sky-high deductibles that make coverage meaningless.

The HHS mandate is bad policy with bad results for women and families. The strong rebuke from the court was well deserved.