Supreme Court: Companies With Religious Objections Can't Be Forced to Offer Birth Control

By Joe Gullo

Published 06/30 2014 11:12AM

Updated 06/30 2014 06:13PM

WASHINGTON - Closely held companies with religious objections, like Hobby Lobby cannot be forced to offer certain types of birth control coverage under President Obama's health care law.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-to-4 decision on Monday.

The high court considered appeals from the arts and crafts giant and a Pennsylvania cabinet maker. Both companies argued the mandate went against their religious beliefs and opposition to abortion.

The decision in favor of Hobby Lobby could signal how the court will approach other lawsuits against the health care law.

Those against the high court ruling fear it could lead to other healthcare challenges on religion grounds.

Local Reaction:
New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan (D):

“Access to family planning services is critical for the health and economic security of women and families, as contraception costs are one of the biggest health care expenses for women and their families. While today’s Supreme Court decision is disappointing, I’m optimistic that employers will continue providing coverage for family planning services because it’s the right thing to do for workers, it will help businesses attract high-quality employees, and it will strengthen the economic security of working families.”

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.):

"Bosses should not be able to impose their religious beliefs on their employees. This ruling is another attack on the rights of working people by the 5-4 conservative majority on the Supreme Court.  At a time when tens of millions of women use birth control, there is no valid reason to restrict a woman’s access to safe, widely-used preventive services simply because her employer does not approve of what should be her private medical decisions. This ruling undermines the government’s interest in providing women access to preventive health care, including contraceptive coverage.”

U.S. Representative Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01):

“The Supreme Court's decision today is incredibly disappointing. The debate over birth control was seemingly settled decades ago, and most companies and institutions had been offering birth control coverage as part of a health care package without controversy. This decision will only make some women's lives even more difficult, and leaves me wondering what's next from this activist Supreme Court.”

Planned Parenthood of New England Vice President of Education & Vermont Community Affairs Jill Krowinski: 

“We are deeply disappointed and troubled by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision released today, allowing closely held corporations the right to exercise their religious beliefs upon their employees’ decisions to use a certain method of birth control. Employers should not be allowed to interfere in their employees’ personal decisions regarding birth control. It’s incredible that in 2014, we are still fighting about whether or not a woman should have access to birth control. To the majority of Americans, birth control is not a controversial issue. It’s basic health care." 

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.):

"The same five justices who ruled that corporations should be treated as persons when it comes to campaign contributions have done it again.  Now they have ruled that closely held corporations should be treated as individuals when it comes to denying their workers access to affordable contraception.  To these justices, your boss’s private views can trump your own medical needs and health insurance choices. This is a ruling that will most hurt women who work hourly jobs and who struggle just to make ends meet.  I hope that, despite this decision, most American businesses will still choose to leave personal medical decisions to their employees."

U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.):

“The Supreme Court got it wrong today.  A woman’s access to health care should not depend on the religious views and conscience of her employer. Decisions about the use of contraceptives should be between a woman and her doctor.  The Court’s misguided decision in this case is a good example of why Congress should have included a public option in the Affordable Care Act, which would have removed employers from the equation of health care coverage.”

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