RALEIGH: Supreme Court ruling on birth control proves divisive - WFLA News Channel 8

Supreme Court ruling on birth control proves to be divisive

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Demonstrator react to hearing the Supreme Court's decision on the Hobby Lobby case outside the Supreme Court in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Demonstrator react to hearing the Supreme Court's decision on the Hobby Lobby case outside the Supreme Court in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Monday's Supreme Court ruling that some companies with religious objections can avoid the contraceptives requirement in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul is being met by mixed reactions. But Planned Parenthood is one organization whose stance on the subject is firm.

The ruling is the first time the high court has declared that businesses can hold religious views under federal law.

The justices' 5-4 decision, splitting conservatives and liberals, means the Obama administration must search for a different way of providing free contraception to women who are covered under the health insurance plans of objecting companies.

While the ruling is a win for some Christian-owned companies that take issue with emergency contraception like the so-called morning-after pill, Planned Parenthood sides with the White House in saying the health of women is now in jeopardy.

"We are tremendously disappointed," said Melissa Reed, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood. "Now this opens the doors for employers to tell their employees they're not covering their basic preventive health care needs."

The ruling came Monday morning after roughly 50 businesses, including Hobby Lobby, sued over the Affordable Care Act requirement that companies had to offer coverage for contraception for its employees. Some of those businesses have said they are willing to cover most methods of contraception, as long as they can exclude drugs or devices that the government says may work after an egg has been fertilized.

Hobby Lobby, which boasts more than 15,000 full-time employees, is an Oklahoma-based chain of arts-and-craft stores owned by conservative Christians.

"I think it's reasonable," said Yifan Liu, who works in downtown Raleigh. "I'm a Christian [and] I think I'm pretty liberal about that. But for some people in my church, they're pretty conservative about that."

The Diocese of Raleigh said it believes the ruling is a move in the right direction in terms of establishing a company and individual's right to religious freedom.

Some corporate benefit consultants, however, say most working women will not be impacted because a publicly-traded company would not likely drag religion into benefits plans.

Justice Samuel Alito suggested two ways the administration could deal with the birth control issue. The government could simply pay for pregnancy prevention, he said. Or it could provide the same kind of accommodation it has made available to religious-oriented, not-for-profit corporations.

Those groups can tell the government that providing the coverage violates their religious beliefs. At that point, creating a buffer, their insurer or a third-party administrator takes on the responsibility of paying for the birth control. The employer does not have to arrange the coverage or pay for it. Insurers get reimbursed by the government through credits against fees owed under other provisions of the health care law.

That accommodation is the subject of separate legal challenges, and the court said Monday that profit-seeking companies could not assert religious claims in such a situation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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Eileen Park

Eileen joined WNCN after years of working as a foreign correspondent. During her time off, she enjoys relaxing with her dogs, reading, and exploring the Triangle. More>>

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