The U.S. Supreme Court on June 30 ruled that U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulations requiring employers to provide female employees with no-cost access to contraception violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The justices ruled 5-4 on the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. case.
“I join … the chorus of voices today in condemning the U.S. Supreme Court decision Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.,” U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said. “As Justice Ruth Bader Ginburg wrote in her dissenting opinion in the case, this decision creates a ‘startling breadth’ and sets up a situation where ‘commercial enterprises, including corporations, along with partnerships and sole proprietorships, can opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.’”
Bass said the decision moves America backwards.
“It puts bosses in the middle of decisions about contraception and leaves the door open to employers being able to deny coverage of other essential health services such as a child’s vaccine or a life-saving blood transfusion based on religious beliefs,” she said. “These decisions should be between patients, their families and their doctors — not middle managers and CEOs. Americans’ medical decisions — especially about contraception —simply do not belong in a corporate board room.”
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) echoed her statement, calling the decision a setback for women’s health and access to reproductive choice.
“By extending yet further attributes of ‘personhood’ to corporate entities, the court builds upon the flawed logic of Citizens United and elevates the rights of these artificial creations of state law over those the constitution was meant to protect,” he said. “The Affordable Care Act has expanded access to healthcare for millions and efforts to erode the scope of its healthcare coverage are a disservice to all those in need of comprehensive care.”
Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean also denounced the ruling.
“This decision is an alarming victory for fundamentalist religious forces who want to be able to use their private beliefs to harm and restrict the freedom of others who believe differently,” she said. “For the first time, the U.S. Supreme Court is allowing companies that do business with the public to evade the application of federal laws because of individual belief. This flies in the face of decades of civil rights jurisprudence.”
The Los Angeles section of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) also condemned the Supreme Court’s decision.
“We are extremely disappointed that the Supreme Court struck down the law’s provision intended to ensure that millions of women workers — as well as women dependents of working men — would have access to birth control services at no added cost,” said Shelli Dodell, president of the NCJW Los Angeles section. “Our members worked hard to help enact the Affordable Care Act and to ensure that such coverage would be part of the package of key preventive benefits offered to all covered workers, and that company leadership would not be able to interfere in women’s ability to make their own personal medical decisions.”
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