BU Health Law Professors on the Implications of Hobby Lobby, Buffer Zone Decisions


Legal analysts and scholars have offered a number of interpretations of the late-June Supreme Court rulings on McCullen v. Coakley, in which a Massachusetts law establishing 30-foot buffer zones around abortion clinics was struck down, and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, in which the court affirmed Hobby Lobby’s policy to refuse contraceptive coverage to female employees on the basis that to do so would violate the owners’s religious beliefs.

BU professors of health law have been at the forefront of these conversations: authoring blog posts, scholarly perspective pieces, and holding forums for students, all discussing the implications of the rulings (either independently or taken together) on corporate law, religious freedoms, and women’s rights to reproductive services.


  • Professor Wendy Mariner wrote a two-part analysis of the Hobby Lobby case for HealthLawProf Blog, writing, among other things, that Justice Alito’s decision “repeatedly conflates individuals with corporations, describing the duties imposed on the corporations as obligations of the individual owners and attributing the owners’ beliefs to the corporation.” >>Read Part 1; Part 2

  • Professor George Annas is lead author on a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine which focuses on the Hobby Lobby challenge to the Affordable Care Act as a sequel to the 2012 ruling on National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, noting that “it is also especially worrisome that abortion is again at the center of the continuing debate over the implementation of the ACA and that the challenge of abortion has been expanded to include birth control.” >>Read the full paper

  • On July 15, Professor Leonard Glantz joined Professors Mariner and Annas in a discussion for medical students on how both rulings might affect practicing physicians. Entitled “Sex, Religion, and the ACA in the Supreme Court: What the Hobby Lobby and the Buffer Zone Cases Mean to Physicians (and Their Patients) in Massachusetts,” video of the session can be found below.

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Last edited August 11, 2014

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