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July 1, 2014

Okla. politicians react to court’s birth control ruling

DUNCAN — Local legislators are praising the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Supreme Court ruling today.

The ruling held regulations requiring companies to provide insurance coverage for methods of contraception that violated their owners’ religious beliefs violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The court ruled 5-4 in favor of Hobby Lobby, with Justice Samuel Alito, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy ruling in favor and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan offering different dissenting opinions.

In question were regulations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 that were put into effect by the Department of Human Services which required specified employers to provide contraceptives and screenings for women without any cost sharing requirements, according to the ruling. Nonexempt employers are usually required to cover the 20 contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration, according to the ruling.

Exempt employers include religious employers and religious nonprofit organizations with religious objections to using the contraceptives, according to the ruling.

The owners of Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby, CEO David Green and his family, argued that facilitating access to contraceptives after conception would violate their religion.

The Department of Health and Human Services argued the company couldn’t sue because they are for-profit.

The Supreme Court ruled companies can opt out of any law that’s incompatible with their religious beliefs, according to the Supreme Court ruling.

State Sen. Corey Brooks said the ruling is a step forward for religious freedom in America.

“This is a step forward in reaffirming religious freedom in America and even Stephens County,” Brooks said.”I’m excited for Hobby Lobby.”

U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) joined 13 other members of Congress in filing a brief with the Supreme Court that said a federal mandate requiring women’s contraception be covered by all health insurance plans violates the RFRA, according to a press release.

“The Green family has built a successful business based on principles that are rooted in their deeply-held faith,” Inhofe said. “Today, the Supreme Court ruled to protect those principles and the religious liberties of private employers.”

Sen. Tom Coburn said religious freedom is the foundation of American rights and the ruling strengthened that foundation, according to a press release.

“Hobby Lobby, which employs thousands of Americans across the country, provides its employees with quality health insurance, including coverage for nearly all FDA-approved contraceptives,” Coburn said. “This case was about the federal government forcing Hobby Lobby’s owners to choose between paying for life-ending drugs and devices and violating their beliefs, or crippling their business.”

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