(Adds White House comments)
By Mark Felsenthal
WASHINGTON, June 30 The U.S. Supreme Court's
ruling that some business owners are not required to provide
birth control coverage to employees puts women's health at risk,
the White House said on Monday, and called on Congress to make
contraception widely available.
"Today's decision jeopardizes the health of women who are
employed by these companies," White House spokesman Josh Earnest
said at a briefing.
"We will work with Congress to make sure that any women
affected by this decision will still have the same coverage of
vital health services as everyone else," he said.
Earnest urged Congress to act to ensure that contraceptive
care is widely available and said President Barack Obama would
consider whether he can act on his own to ensure such coverage
is available to all women.
"The owners of for-profit companies should not be allowed to
assert their personal religious views to deny their employees
federally mandated benefits," Earnest said.
The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that business owners can
object on religious grounds to a provision of Obama's healthcare
law that requires closely held private companies to provide
health insurance that covers birth control. The decision applies
only to companies owned by a small number of individuals.
The president is still reviewing the legal and practical
implications of the court decision, including which companies
are covered by it and how many employees are affected, the
"As we gather some more information, we may be in a position
to better consider the range of options that are available to
the president," Earnest said. "It is our view... that Congress
needs to take action to solve this problem."
(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal and Annika McGinnis; Editing by