Women’s rights advocates protest Hobby Lobby birth control decision

WILLIAMSVILLE N.Y. (WIVB) - A group of protesters gathered outside the Transit Road Hobby Lobby store Saturday, to show their disappointment with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Burwell V. Hobby Lobby.

In the 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court decided that some companies can opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to cover certain contraceptives in their employee health insurance plans, if birth control conflicts with the owners’ religious beliefs.

Only privately-owned, for-profit, “closely-held” corporations are exempt, under the high court’s ruling. “Closely-held” is defined as a business that is family owned and operated, or under the control of just a few people.

“It’s a step backward,” said Ashley Markel, who organized Saturday’s protest. “We’re all here to stand up for women’s rights and equality.”

Markel worries that the Supreme Court has just set a dangerous precedent.

Although Hobby Lobby’s owners were seeking only exemptions from the so-called “morning after” or “abortion” pills, Markel and others worry that the Supreme Court’s decision may be interpreted more broadly than that by other corporations, who many choose not to cover “regular” forms of birth control, because of it.

“This is going to open the door for a lot of other closely-held corporations and privately-owned companies to decide that maybe they don’t want to provide coverage for any type of birth control,” Markel explained. “The decision to use birth control should be a decision between a woman and her doctor, not her boss.”

Others speculate this decision may open the door to businesses seeking exemption from other laws on religious grounds.

But pro-life and religious groups are praising the Supreme Court, for upholding what they see as their rights.

Hobby Lobby co-owners Barbara and David Green said they are “truly thankful for the decision that allowed us to continue operating our family business according to our principles.”

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