COLUMBIA — In a 5-4 decision Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that family-owned companies cannot be required to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives. Such requirement would violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.
Columbia residents, politicians and organizations showed a variety of opinions, both supporting and disagreeing with the court. The majority of residents we found Tweeting about the case on Monday were not happy with the court's decision.
First, some background
Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, was brought about by two companies — evangelical-owned craft-store Hobby Lobby and Mennonite-owned cabinet maker Conestoga Wood Specialties — challenging a regulation of the Affordable Care Act requiring the companies to provide insurance for female employees that includes contraception coverage. According to Vox Media, the methods of contraception that will be affected are emergency contraception, such as Plan B and Ella morning-after pills and hormonal or copper intrauterine devices.
This decision ultimately gives corporations, rather than just individuals, the right to hold religious beliefs, which could set a legal precedent for future cases.
The majority decision was narrowly written by Justice Samuel Alito to relate only to contraceptive coverage. Other procedures that have come under fire for religious reasons, such as blood transfusions and vaccines, are not included in this decision.
State- and local-level responses to the decision
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., applauded the Supreme Court in a news release Monday.
"Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is an important victory to protect Americans’ fundamental right of religious freedom," he said. "Americans should not be forced to choose between giving up their business for their faith or giving up their faith for their business."
Similarly, the Missouri Catholic Conference supported the decision in a news release, agreeing that U.S. citizens should be able to "operate their family-owned businesses in accordance with their religious convictions."
Ron Ellifrits, interim CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said in a news release Monday that this ruling is disappointing.
"Today, the Supreme Court ruled against American women and families, giving bosses the right to discriminate against women and deny their employees access to birth control coverage," he said. "This is a deeply disappointing and troubling ruling that will prevent some women, especially those working hourly-wage jobs and struggling to make ends meet, from getting birth control."
Responses from Columbia residents on Twitter
People who felt strongly about the Supreme Court's ruling expressed their disagreement with the decision throughout the day. Some decided to no longer frequent the craft-supplies giant, while others were concerned the ruling threatened the freedom of women to make their own medical decisions.
My faith in the god-given dignity and agency of women is threatened by the Hobby Lobby ruling.— Molly Housh Gordon (@revmolly) June 30, 2014
What bugs me about this #SCOTUS decision on Hobby Lobby is they're basically saying that your religious beliefs matter more if you're rich— Reid Foster (@The_Reid) June 30, 2014
Denying access to effective forms of BC leads to more abortions. Way to go Hobby Lobby- there will be more abortions because of you.— Hannah Dismer (@HannahCherie94) June 30, 2014
More big business manipulation of the government. A 'win' for Hobby Lobby is a lose for the individual citizen. #SCOTUS— l.3.d (@LeDinks) June 30, 2014
Oh good. Religious liberty only allows women to be screwed.— Ellen Flottman (@lawmom4) June 30, 2014
Those who supported the Supreme Court's decision commended the court for ruling in favor of religious liberty.
I love how people call abortion inducing drugs "contraception." Hobby Lobby has and still offers most forms of contraception in its HC plan— Renee Hulshof (@reneehulshof) June 30, 2014
Related documents and articles
- Religion News Service created a concise explanation of the Hobby Lobby case and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
- Vox Media explains the legal questions the Supreme Court is hearing in cases involving birth control.
- Click here to find the full PDF of the decision, with the majority opinion of written by Justice Samuel Alito, a concurring opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy and a dissenting opinion written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
- SCOTUSblog, a private blog about the U.S. Supreme Court sponsored by Bloomberg Law, live-blogged the announcement.
Additional research on contraceptives
In her dissent, Ginsburg argues on page 83 that the contraceptive coverage mandated by the Affordable Care Act "furthers compelling interests in public health and women's well being." Those interests, she wrote, are supported by a "wealth of empirical evidence." For more information on the excluded contraceptives and how they affect women's health and fertility, see the links below.
- Explanation and definitions of various birth control methods from the Cleveland Clinic.
- The difference between abortion and emergency contraception from the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals.
- An article discussing the Affordable Care Act and abortifacients from the Washington Post.
Supervising editor is Shaina Cavazos.