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Justices: Can’t Make Employers Cover Contraception

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Derek Valcourt 370x278 Derek Valcourt
Derek Valcourt began working at WJZ in September 2002. His first major...
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WASHINGTON (WJZ) — The Supreme Court rules some businesses don’t have to provide contraceptive coverage to female employees under the Affordable Care Act if the business owners have religious objections to it.

Derek Valcourt has more on the ruling and the passionate arguments on both sides.

Churches and other religious groups were already exempt from the Affordable Care Act birth control requirements. But now, the Supreme Court’s five conservative judges all agreed businesses owned by just a few people also have religious protections.

The Supreme Court decision means some for-profit companies are not required to provide certain contraception coverage to employees. The high court’s ruling angered some pro-choice advocates.

“What we saw today was five male justices rule that discrimination, specifically against women, is not discrimination in their book,” said Ilyse Hogue, pro-choice advocate.

The case was brought by Evangelical Christians David and Barbara Green, who own retail arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby. They said the Affordable Care Act requirement that their company provide certain birth control coverage violated their religious beliefs.

The Oklahoma-based company operates two stores in Maryland, including one in Columbia. They’re hailing the decision by the Supreme Court as a victory for religious freedom.

“The Supreme Court decided that Americans don’t give up their religious freedom just because they open a family business,” said Lori Windham, senior attorney for Hobby Lobby.

“A bunch of closely held corporations, not individuals, got a break today from the Supreme Court, who carved away again at the longstanding right of individuals in this country to have reproductive freedom,” said Susan Goering, ACLU. “They let the bosses into the bedrooms.”

ACLU attorneys say they’ll push Congress and the president to provide contraceptive coverage to all women.

Some of the women WJZ talked to say employers shouldn’t get to decide contraceptive care. Others agree an employer’s religious belief does trump an employee’s need for contraception.

“They work somewhere else or they can pay out of pocket for it. It’s a personal choice,” said Latanya Carter.

The Supreme Court’s conservatives said the ruling was narrow and only applied to contraception. But the court’s liberals, led by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, worried the ruling would open the door to businesses refusing other kinds of care like vaccines or blood transfusions based on their religious beliefs.

In a separate decision, the Supreme Court also ruled that thousands of home health care workers in Illinois do not have to pay union fees.

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