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Local response to court ruling religious rights trump birth control

CINCINNATI (Jeff Hirsh) -- In yet another 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Hobby Lobby case that employers with specific religious objections did not have to provide insurance coverage for contraception.

The ruling overturned a small but politically significant portion of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obama Care.  Hobby Lobby is an Oklahoma based crafts company which has several stores in the tri-state area and 13,000 employees nationwide.  The owners are Evangelical Christians who took on the president and won.

Hobby Lobby also has a political lobby.  Not part of the company, but part of a conservative, religious based movement, including both Evangelicals and Catholic Bishops opposed to abortion. 

"We're overjoyed. We appreciate the judges standing for religious freedom. Certainly we don't want corporations not being able to act on their consciences. I think both sides agree it's a good thing that corporations can have a heart and stand up for what they believe in," said Rachel Renner at Pregnancy Center West.
But critics of the Supreme Court ruling said it's wrong for the owners of a business to be able to impose their religious views on employees.  Particularly on those who think differently.

"I think that the concept that a married woman working for this corporation might not be able to get contraception when she needs it is just absurd because somebody else is telling her she can't be covered. I've heard the argument they can go out and pay for it themselves but if you're a poor woman this is not an option, so I think this is one more step in the direction of corporations taking over individual decisions," Barbara Myers said who is with the Cincinnati Women's Political Caucus.

In the majority Supreme Court opinion, Justice Samuel Alito said the ruling applied to closely held companies only.  In other words, family operations, not companies with large numbers, or perhaps even small numbers of stockholders who are not related to the boss are included in the ruling.  Alito also said the ruling would not prohibit other medical issues such as vaccinations, which may have a larger public health purpose despite what a company's owner may think.
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati released a statement in support of the ruling, saying in part, "Religious freedom is more than just the freedom to worship, but also the freedom to live our faith in the world.  The Supreme Court today has recognized that basic human right."

You can post your comments about Monday's decision on the Local 12 Facebook Page.

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