In a controversial 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that some corporations can opt out of a requirement that they provide contraception, if they are owned by a small group of people with religious objections.
Under the health care law that President Barack Obama signed in 2010, contraception is among several services that must be provided at no extra charge. Several employers challenged that requirement -- including Hobby Lobby -- and are now celebrating a victory.
Hobby Lobby, the company at the center of a contentious Supreme Court case, has gained a victory for many social conservatives, but the ruling remains controversial on the Suncoast.
"I just drove 30 miles to the closest Hobby Lobby. I wanted to get a picture taken with the people inside and out front, and I'm just so excited." Cary Bogue is among many loyal Hobby Lobby shoppers who say the ruling in favor of the company is a landmark for religious freedom. "I believe it's correct because I don't believe the federal government should force anybody to do anything against their religious beliefs."
But the decision allowing private, closely held corporations to refuse to provide their employees insurance coverage for contraceptives based on their religious beliefs does not sit well with those who see both female employees rights to full coverage versus the company owner's rights.
The Suncoast's Planned Parenthood raised their signs and spoke out in opposition to Monday's ruling. "We're deeply disappointed and troubled by this ruling because it means that some bosses will be able to interfere with their employees access to birth control. The decision to use birth control should be between a woman and her doctor, not with her boss’s interference," says Barbara Zdravecky, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of SW & Central Florda.
The Green Family, founders of Hobby Lobby, argued certain forms of birth control are akin to an early abortion.
Now the Obama administration must come up with a different way to provide free contraception to women who are covered under objecting health insurance plans.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane of the Diocese of Venice welcomes the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to defend the rights of conscience and religious liberty for Hobby Lobby. He said in a statement release Monday: “Today’s decision is a victory for religious liberty. While the decision is still being evaluated, this is a big first step in protecting the rights of religious freedom, threatened by government interference. Now is the time to continue to resist the restrictive nature of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring religious organizations, such as charities, hospitals and schools, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilizations and contraceptives.”