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Washington - Birth Control Ruling Sparks Political Clash

Published on: July 1, 2014 10:18 AM
By: AP
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Demonstrator react to hearing the Supreme Court's decision on the Hobby Lobby case outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, June 30, 2014. The Supreme Court says corporations can hold religious objections that allow them to opt out of the new health law requirement that they cover contraceptives for women.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)Washington -  Republicans called it a win for religious freedom. The decision of the Supreme Court, they said, is further evidence the country’s new health care law is deeply flawed.

The claims of victory arrived almost immediately after the high court ruled Monday that some companies need not provide contraception to women as required by President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement. Yet there’s a risk for the GOP in crowing too loudly.

Republicans for years have tried to make inroads with two groups that tend to favor Democrats: women and younger voters. And as popular as the court’s decision will be with the Republican base, it’s likely to be just as unpopular this year and into 2016 with those who depend on insurance to pay for birth control — a group that includes women and younger voters.

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“The thought of your boss telling you what kind of birth control you can and can’t get is offensive and it certainly is motivating to women to vote,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which plans to spend several million dollars this year to campaign for Senate candidates.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that some companies can hold religious objections allowing them to opt out of health law’s birth control coverage requirement. While the ruling does not address the heart of the Affordable Care Act, it’s a setback for Democrats and amplifies a longstanding argument from conservatives that the law they call “Obamacare” intrudes on religious liberties as part of a larger government overreach.

“This is a clear and decisive defeat against Obamacare and a victory for the rights of all Americans,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a fundraising appeal distributed less than three hours after the Supreme Court ruling.

But Republican leaders such as Priebus were careful to avoid mentioning the impact on women and their reproductive rights, underscoring the delicate balance the GOP must strike as it works to improve its image among women. The party is still recovering from a series of insensitive comments made by GOP candidates in the 2012 election, including Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin, whose campaign crumbled after he said women’s bodies were able to avoid pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.”

“Republicans have to be careful about not appearing as though they’re anti-contraception. This is a constitutional issue,” said Katie Packer Gage, a GOP strategist whose firm advises Republicans on navigating women’s issues. “We have to be very, very cautious as a party.”

Reinforcing its decision of Monday, the high court on Tuesday left in place lower court rulings in favor of businesses that object to covering all methods of government-approved contraception.

The justices’ action Tuesday was a strong indication that the earlier decision extending religious rights to closely held corporations applies broadly to the contraceptive coverage requirement in the new health care law, not just the four pregnancy prevention methods and devices that the court considered in its ruling. Tuesday’s orders apply to companies owned by Catholics who oppose all contraception. Their cases were awaiting action pending resolution of the Hobby Lobby case.

Polls suggest that most people — and a larger majority of women — think for-profit companies should be required to cover the cost of birth control. A Gallup survey conducted in May found that 90 percent of Americans, including 88 percent of Republicans, see the use of birth control as morally acceptable.

Democrats said the ruling would shine a spotlight on access to birth control and dovetail with a strategy by the party to mobilize female voters on issues such as raising the minimum wage and supporting pay equity for women.

In Colorado, for example, Democratic Sen. Mark Udall’s first TV ad noted Republican Rep. Cory Gardner’s past sponsorship of a bill to outlaw abortions in cases of rape and incest and support for an effort to grant an embryo the same legal rights as a person, which could have outlawed some types of birth control and all abortions. Gardner now says he opposes the “personhood” measure.

In Iowa, Democrats have signaled plans to highlight Republican Joni Ernst’s support of a personhood amendment to the state’s constitution. In Michigan, Democrats backing Senate candidate Gary Peters have sought to tarnish Republican Terri Lynn Land’s record on reproductive rights, prompting her to air her own ad in April declaring, “As a woman, I might know a little bit more about women than Gary Peters.”

It won’t be clear until November whether women will respond to such appeals.

Fewer young women typically vote in midterm elections compared with presidential years. And they are particularly disengaged from this year’s races: 63 percent of women under age 30 in an AP-GfK poll conducted before the ruling reported they “don’t care very much” which party wins control of Congress. Just 21 percent said they were certain to vote in November.

Writing for the court’s conservative majority, Justice Samuel Alito suggested the White House could resolve the issue by broadening a birth control compromise it created earlier for religion-oriented nonprofits. In those cases a third party — usually an insurer — can cover contraceptives at no charge to the affected employees, and the government absorbs the cost.

But White House spokesman Josh Earnest signaled the administration may not take that route. Instead, he challenged Congress to pass legislation to address the coverage gap for women. That could put some Republicans in a difficult spot politically, but not right away. For now, they’re enjoying what many viewed as a win.

“When Obamacare and its impact on people is front and center in the political debate, it’s just not good news for Democrats,” Republican strategist Kevin Madden said.



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Read Comments (8)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jul 01, 2014 at 01:11 PM Rafuel Says:

"It’s just not good news for Democrats," as the article concludes. Yes, but what is not good news for Democretes usually turns out to be excellent news for Americans, especially, in this case, for the ones who care about religious liberty.

After all, why my partners and I should be forced to pay for gory savage procedures, shamelessly called "choice," and medications, which go against our conscience?

2

 Jul 01, 2014 at 01:44 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Rafuel Says:

"It’s just not good news for Democrats," as the article concludes. Yes, but what is not good news for Democretes usually turns out to be excellent news for Americans, especially, in this case, for the ones who care about religious liberty.

After all, why my partners and I should be forced to pay for gory savage procedures, shamelessly called "choice," and medications, which go against our conscience?

You do not understand the situation. This has absolutely nothing to do with abortion. It has to do with the following:

Can a corporation have a religion?
Is a corporations religion superior to the beliefs of the real human beings who work for that corporation?
What proof is necessary to show the corporation's religious belief?
What proof is necessary to show that the act violates the corporation's religious belief.

Here, the corporation decided that paying insurance for contraception that an employed might use based on her religious beliefs, equalled abortion. The objectionable procedures are not at all ablrtions by medical ruling. They are methods that actually prevent pregnancy at all. However, the SCOTUS determined that a closely held corporation can have a religion, their religion is superior to the rights of the employees, no proof is required to show their religion, and no science is required to support the belief. This ruling is another attempt by the christian right to make theirs the religion of the land and it is disgraceful.

3

 Jul 01, 2014 at 05:33 PM Rafuel Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

You do not understand the situation. This has absolutely nothing to do with abortion. It has to do with the following:

Can a corporation have a religion?
Is a corporations religion superior to the beliefs of the real human beings who work for that corporation?
What proof is necessary to show the corporation's religious belief?
What proof is necessary to show that the act violates the corporation's religious belief.

Here, the corporation decided that paying insurance for contraception that an employed might use based on her religious beliefs, equalled abortion. The objectionable procedures are not at all ablrtions by medical ruling. They are methods that actually prevent pregnancy at all. However, the SCOTUS determined that a closely held corporation can have a religion, their religion is superior to the rights of the employees, no proof is required to show their religion, and no science is required to support the belief. This ruling is another attempt by the christian right to make theirs the religion of the land and it is disgraceful.

Oh, yes, I do understand this situation very well, in part because I was closely watching it because the outcome could affect me personally.

Before this ruling was made, it was quite likely that my partners and I will be forced with the choice:

1) provide our employees with coverage for gory savage procedures and certain medications/devices, all of which are against our conscience,
2) find heretofore uninvented creative way to avoid or get around this gross obamacare act,
3) shut down the company (in my early n40s I am too young to retire and the business is going well),
4) move the company to another land whose laws are more enlightened than ours in that they don't force their citizens or residents to compromise their conscience if they want to conduct business, and it would have to be in the country where there are well educated and talented people who can handle our tasks. Living overseas for few weeks/months at a time is not something I would want, but we may not have had another alternative.

The bottom line: now we don't have to, and our lawyers just confirmed it today. I think mazal tov is in order!

4

 Jul 01, 2014 at 05:02 PM bewhiskered Says:

"Can a corporation have a religion?"

It looks to me like a lot more family owned and closely held for profit American corporations are going to adopt religion.

Not that many on this site are capable of understanding the contraceptive debate, but you are correct when you argue that the Supreme Court has opened the door which places the religion of corporations over employees' civil rights. Having made GW Bush the President in 2000, initiating Citizens United, overturning the Voting Rights Act, and the present debacle over contraceptives will memorialize this court in history as a rogue partisan court serving corporate America, and totally against women and minorities.

5

 Jul 01, 2014 at 04:36 PM skepticc Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

You do not understand the situation. This has absolutely nothing to do with abortion. It has to do with the following:

Can a corporation have a religion?
Is a corporations religion superior to the beliefs of the real human beings who work for that corporation?
What proof is necessary to show the corporation's religious belief?
What proof is necessary to show that the act violates the corporation's religious belief.

Here, the corporation decided that paying insurance for contraception that an employed might use based on her religious beliefs, equalled abortion. The objectionable procedures are not at all ablrtions by medical ruling. They are methods that actually prevent pregnancy at all. However, the SCOTUS determined that a closely held corporation can have a religion, their religion is superior to the rights of the employees, no proof is required to show their religion, and no science is required to support the belief. This ruling is another attempt by the christian right to make theirs the religion of the land and it is disgraceful.

Oh stop with your logic, no one is interested!!

Of course, everyone has bought into the hysterical hype that the morning after pill is an "abortion pill", when it fact, it PREVENTS the egg from fertilizing, it does not destroy an already fertilized egg. But no one is interested because their religion is the bestest religion and the one true religion, dont ya know?

6

 Jul 01, 2014 at 06:50 PM Realistic Says:

I'm just curios, and I wonder if anyone can explain it to me.

1) The supreme court had only applied that principle to certain contraception, and they wrote that this cannot be used as a precedent to anything else. (thus by avoiding the slippery slope critics had warned it might cause). My question is, since the courts aren't here to make laws, just to interpret the constitution, and passed laws, how come that can restrict a ruling just to one issue? They should write out exactly what when it applies and when it doesn't. (My basic question is how can they tailor this to one issue, without explaining what makes it different here).

2) The supreme court clearly wrote that any religious objection must be "sincere". So who decides who's sincere? can the government question the entire life of someone, to see if he is obliging to his purposed religion? Can they check if the owner, or his wife ever took birth control? (The CEO of Hobby Lobby has only 3 children, wikipedia). Can Obama through an executive order mandate that in order to show sincerity, the company can have no financial benefit of this, and have in some way distribute the money saved through it's employees?

7

 Jul 02, 2014 at 06:04 PM charliehall Says:

Reply to #3  
Rafuel Says:

Oh, yes, I do understand this situation very well, in part because I was closely watching it because the outcome could affect me personally.

Before this ruling was made, it was quite likely that my partners and I will be forced with the choice:

1) provide our employees with coverage for gory savage procedures and certain medications/devices, all of which are against our conscience,
2) find heretofore uninvented creative way to avoid or get around this gross obamacare act,
3) shut down the company (in my early n40s I am too young to retire and the business is going well),
4) move the company to another land whose laws are more enlightened than ours in that they don't force their citizens or residents to compromise their conscience if they want to conduct business, and it would have to be in the country where there are well educated and talented people who can handle our tasks. Living overseas for few weeks/months at a time is not something I would want, but we may not have had another alternative.

The bottom line: now we don't have to, and our lawyers just confirmed it today. I think mazal tov is in order!

You are a liar. There is no mandate to cover abortions and contraceptives do not cause abortions.

8

 Jul 02, 2014 at 08:02 PM Rafuel Says:

Abortifacient do just that: they cause abortions. And their coverage was mandatory before this wise ruling by the Court. But facts are not of any interest to the leftist, he is just looking for an excuse to scream "you are a liar."

9

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