Abortion rights have faced increasing limitations over the last few years, and with the latest Hobby Lobby Supreme Court ruling, many are probably wondering what the case means for abortion and where abortion law stands today. Ultimately, while the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. was hardly a win for women’s accessibility to contraception and set a vague and difficult to define precedent, it’s more of an added challenge than the end all of abortion rulings. In fact, it could almost be argued that the ruling in McCullen v. Coakley will have a greater impact on those who chose to seek an abortion, as it struck down state law holding abortion protestors 35 feet away form the entrance area of abortion clinics. Some states may feel very little abortion related impact from the Hobby Lobby case, but interacts outside clinics will be considerably more invasive and tense — not a reflection on the validity of the ruling, simply a predictable outcome already being seen.
A report from the Guttmacher Institute gives some important practical facts when considering how the Hobby Lobby case changes things, pointing out that states have already made most of the big dents in abortion insurance coverage. As a boundary setter and definition maker, the case is vital, and it is likely to have a major limiting effect on emergency contraception options as well as limiting birth control choices and other health items. But as the report points out, “Several states already restrict private insurance coverage of abortion; these restrictions also apply to plans sold on the exchanges,” and that “more often, states have banned abortion coverage in public employees’ insurance policies or in other cases where public funds are used to insure employees.”
Specifically, it shows that 9 states restrict abortion for private insurance plans, 25 states restrict coverage on insurance exchanges, 19 on insurance plans for public employees, and 17 for multiple categories. State laws have been restricting the coverage since 2010, the report shows, so the Hobby Lobby case, while of enormous import, isn’t a lone crushing blow reigning down particularly hard on abortion in particular.