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Demonstrators embrace after the Supreme Court decided Monday that corporations can hold religious objections to opt out of the health law requirement that they cover contraceptives for women.
By Tom Collins NewsTribune Senior Reporter and The Associated Press
The Suarez family runs Koolmaster in La Salle and worships at St. Valentine Church in Peru. They weren’t pleased with an “Obamacare” requirement that employer-funded insurance include contraceptives. As of Monday, that requirement is officially off the books. In a case involving retailer Hobby Lobby, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 that corporations can hold religious objections that allow them to opt out of the new health law requirement that they cover contraceptives for women. “As a local business owner I can say that I am pleased with the decision,” said Pete Suarez of Koolmaster. “It is satisfying to know that a business owner cannot be made to violate their religious beliefs in order to comply with federal law.” The court’s ruling was generally hailed in the Illinois Valley, where the Affordable Care Act remains divisive and where one business filed a lawsuit against the ACA in grounds similar to what Hobby Lobby argued. “It’s definitely the correct decision that was made,” said Fred Hartenbower, member/owner of Hart Electric LLC, whose lawsuit remains pending. “We could not see paying for abortive products or abortion as Obama requires us to do. “We understand abortion is the law of the land, but we feel we should not have to pay for what we are morally opposed to.” Significantly, the 5-4 ruling was split partly along religious lines. The five justices in the majority all are Roman Catholic; the Catholic church had denounced the contraception mandate among other provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Only one of the four dissenting justices, Sonia Sotomayor, is Catholic. Among those who applauded the ruling was the Catholic health network that includes OSF St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa, which is grandfathered from the HHS mandate and does not extend contraception or abortion services to employees. “Any time the rights of the unborn are protected and bolstered, we here at OSF HealthCare welcome and applaud such outcomes,” said Jim Farrell, senior vice president of marketing and communications, OSF Healthcare System. “Because the Hobby Lobby case addressed for-profit employers we are unsure of how that will affect us non-profit Catholic health care organizations,” Farrell said. “We will await the guidance and insights from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.” Hobby Lobby in Peru directed media queries to the company’s Oklahoma City headquarters, where co-founder Barbara Green said she and her family were “overjoyed” by the Supreme Court’s decision. “Today the nation’s highest court has re-affirmed the vital importance of religious liberty as one of our country’s founding principles,” Green said. “The court’s decision is a victory, not just for our family business, but for all who seek to live out their faith. We are grateful to God and to those who have supported us on this difficult journey.” The Monday decision marks the first time that the high court has ruled that profit-seeking businesses can hold religious views under federal law. And it means the Obama administration must search for a different way of providing free contraception to women who are covered under objecting companies’ health insurance plans. Contraception is among a range of preventive services that must be provided at no extra charge under the health care law that President Barack Obama signed in 2010 and the Supreme Court upheld two years later. Two years ago, Chief Justice John Roberts cast the pivotal vote that saved the health care law in the midst of Obama’s campaign for re-election. On Monday, dealing with a small sliver of the law, Roberts sided with the four justices who would have struck down the law in its entirety. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion. The court’s four liberal justices dissented. The court stressed that its ruling applies only to corporations that are under the control of just a few people in which there is no essential difference between the business and its owners.
Portions of this story Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Posted: Saturday, July 5, 2014
Article comment by:
What happened to not piercing the corporate veil? Why should being incorporated protect the owners from personal liability but still allow the owners to reach through that corporate veil to force their personal beliefs on their employees? Seems very wrong to me. If people want to push personal beliefs on employees, they should not incorporate their businesses and be willing to accept the risk that comes with it. That should be a small price to pay to promote your religious beliefs, right??
Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Article comment by:
I won't shop at any business that supports this ruling. Religion has no business in politics and I pray that Churches will be required to pay taxes. This country was founded on religious freedom. Our 1st amendment is now defunct.
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