Contraception and the Supreme Court: Why CVS, Walgreens allow pharmacists to deny birth control

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CVS, Walgreens birth control policies underscore Supreme Court’s sway

Experts said the Supreme Court may be poised to revisit a standard set in 1977 on how far employers must go to accommodate a worker’s religious beliefs.

  • Federal law requires employers to make “reasonable” accommodations for workers’ religious beliefs.
  • Legal experts say the policies embraced by drugstore chains appear to align with the law.
  • Debate over the issue has intensified since the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade in June.

WASHINGTON – The nation’s largest drugstore chains have come under scrutiny in recent weeks for policies that allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense birth control if doing so conflicts with their religious or moral beliefs.

For the most part, experts say, the law is on their side.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires companies to accommodate workers’ religious beliefs as long as the request doesn’t create an “undue hardship” on an employer. Just how far employers must go is open to debate – but the Supreme Court has repeatedly signaled an interest in expanding religious rights, not limiting them.

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