American Medical Student Association Disappointed with Court Decision Allowing Denial of Contraceptive Coverage

August 13, 2017


Sterling, VA — The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) expresses deep disappointment with the decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of Burwell v Hobby Lobby, to limit employee rights to access comprehensive medical care. In their 5–4 decision, the justices ruled that the mandate under the Affordable Care Act, which states that employers must provide contraceptive coverage, places an undue burden on certain employers’ exercise of religious freedom. The ruling allows for-profit corporations with “sincerely held religious beliefs” to deny providing contraceptive coverage to their female employees.

As the nation’s largest, independent medical student organization, AMSA believes that access to medical care is a right of all people, no matter their gender, and that this decision creates a means by which employers can deny coverage of specific aspects of health care for their employees. “By denying women the right to appropriate family planning, this will have direct negative health and fiscal consequences on American families,” says Dr. Britani Kessler, AMSA’s national president. “AMSA feels that limiting contraceptive coverage holds the interests of corporations over the well-being of women, and in a nation where the U.S. ranks 37th in delivery of health care services, this is unacceptable.”

Even though the ruling applies only to “closely held” for-profit corporations in the United States, hundreds of thousands of people will be impacted. In a time when over 50 percent of the population relies on employer-based coverage for health insurance, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, limiting employees’ opportunities to access medical services based on the religious beliefs of the leaders of a corporation is unjust.

AMSA respects the right of individuals to exercise their religious freedom, but it does not believe that corporations’ exercise of religious freedom should be allowed to interfere with employees’ access to health care. Allowing corporations to claim religious rights as a reason to deny coverage creates the possibility of discrimination against other minority populations. AMSA strongly opposes the Supreme Court’s ruling.

About the American Medical Student Association

AMSA is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. Founded in 1950, AMSA is a student-governed, non-profit organization committed to representing the concerns of physicians-in-training. To learn more about AMSA, our strategic priorities, or joining the organization, please visit us online at www.amsa.org.