COLUMBUS — Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, the head of Ohio Right to Life and others praised the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision June 30 enabling some companies to refrain from providing certain contraceptives as part of health care coverage.
“We are pleased the court’s decision in Hobby Lobby closely followed the arguments made in Ohio’s amicus brief,” DeWine’s spokesman, Dan Tierney, said in a released statement. “The court agreed with Ohio that the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act signed by President Clinton applies to closely held private companies and that the facts in this case imposed a substantial burden on the plaintiffs’ religious liberty.”
But opponents, including two Democrats seeking statewide office, said the decision will hurt women seeking essential medical services.
“Today’s decision on the Hobby Lobby case is bad for both women and families across Ohio,” Cuyahoga County Executive and gubernatorial hopeful Ed FitzGerald said in a released statement. “Not only does this ruling inappropriately involve a woman’s boss in extremely personal healthcare decisions, but it also hits at the pocketbooks of families who are already struggling to get by.”
The craft store Hobby Lobby and numerous other companies had challenged the federal government over birth control mandated under the affordable care act, citing their owners’ religious beliefs. Ohio and more than a dozen other states submitted briefs in support of the businesses.
“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal government and Obamacare cannot violate Americans’ religious freedoms,” Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said in a released statement. “Specifically, Obamacare cannot force employers and taxpayers to pay for abortion-inducing drugs. Of course, if an employer wants to offer an insurance plan that covers abortions and contraception, then they are free to do so. However, our government cannot force anyone to participate if it violates their Christian beliefs.”
But Statehouse Democrats said they were “deeply concerned” about the impact of the decision.
“Today, five men decided the reproductive fate of countless female employees in a historic ruling that places the religious preferences of a few over the health and safety of millions of women across the country,” Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) said in a released statement. “A woman’s health-care decisions should be made in her doctor’s office, not a corporate board room, and today’s ruling undermines the ability of a woman to make her own decisions.”
David Pepper, who hopes to unseat DeWine in November, added in a released statement, “We’ve entered an unprecedented new era where women in the workplace could have to defer to the moral and religious views of their boss in making their most intimate healthcare decisions. The ripple effects will be felt long into the future.”
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio President and Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Kight said decisions about contraceptives should be made between a woman and her doctor.
“This is not an issue of religious freedom,” she said. “This is really an issue of access to affordable health care. While we are disappointed in today’s decision, Planned Parenthood understands the importance of the birth control benefit for women and families, and we will continue fight for women to have access to contraception without the hindrance of cost or other hurdles standing in the way.”
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.