WV groups, officials react to SCOTUS contraceptive decision - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

WV groups, officials react to SCOTUS contraceptive decision

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West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said he was pleased with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the cases of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp v. Burwell, both of which concerned whether the government can issue a mandate to private, family-owned businesses under the Affordable Care Act if the mandate would violate the owner's religious beliefs.

The court sided with the businesses in its decision June 30. West Virginia joined 19 other states in a friend-of-the court brief in support of the family-owned businesses.

"Today's decision reaffirms that the government cannot force its views on those who may disagree because of their faith, and is a welcome victory for all citizens' religious freedom and the values protected by the First Amendment," Morrisey said in a statement.

West Virginia Free believes women in the Mountain State will be harmed by the Supreme Court’s ruling on Hobby Lobby and coverage of contraceptives, according to a news release issued shortly after the court's decision.

“The Supreme Court of the United States made the wrong decision today by denying women the right to make their own personal health care decisions,” Sarah Brown, vice president/secretary of WV FREE Action Fund, said in a news release. “This is not the time to roll back the clocks and discriminate against women in the work place.”

WV FREE said 95 percent of women will use birth control in their lifetime and over 150,000 women and families in the state are directly impact by the ruling.

The advocacy group pointed to groundbreaking passage of the Affordable Care Act including insurance coverage of birth control. They said in an effort to stall implementation, several organizations raised religious concerns over offering employees access to birth control – Hobby Lobby included.

“We have a lot of important work to do and lawsuits like this remove the focus on what is vitally important – ensuring that West Virginia women and families have affordable health care coverage,” Brown added.

A representative from West Virginians for Life said the anti-abortion group doesn’t typically take stand on contraceptives.

Families USA – The Voice for Health Care Consumers said today’s ruling harms workers in a number of privately held businesses.

“We believe that, no matter where someone works, women’s access to preventive health care should not be impeded by their bosses’ personal beliefs, and we also believe it is short-sighted to deny such care because it inevitably results in higher health care costs,” Ron Pollack, Executive Director of the consumer health organization Families USA, said in a news release. “However, it is important to note that today’s ruling has little impact on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The decision leaves unchanged the key features of the historic act.”

Planned Parenthood Health Systems Action Fund condemned the ruling.

“This is a deeply disappointing and troubling ruling that allows some bosses to interfere with their employees’ access to birth control,” Caitlin Palmer, West Virginia Field Director for PlannedParenthood Health Systems Action Fund, said in a statement. “The Supreme Court’s ruling means that some corporations will not have to provide insurance coverage for birth control. This ruling does not strike down the birth control benefit. Today, over 30 million women nationwide and 153,000 women in West Virginia are eligible for birth control with no copay because of this benefit, and the vast majority of them will not be affected by this ruling. But this ruling with have real consequences for the women who are affected.”

“It is unbelievable that in 2014, there’s still a fight going on about whether women should have access to birth control. We know firsthand that access to birth control is both a health care and economic concern for women, and we will work to make sure that this benefit remains in place for the millions of women who rely on it – and to make sure that women have access to basic, preventive care no matter where they live, who they work for, or how much money they make. The decision to use birth control should be between a woman and her doctor, not her boss.”

The Family Policy Council of West Virginia (FPCWV) praised the ruling. They praised the court for upholding religious liberty, protecting the conscience rights of family businesses who object to being forced to pay for the coverage of sterilizations, contraception and drugs that have the potential to destroy an unborn child.

When FPCWV President Allen Whitt learned of the ruling this morning he made the following comment: "We are so thankful that the Supreme Court agreed that the government went too far by mandating that family business owners should violate their consciences under a threat of crippling fines. The Supreme Court has delivered one of the most significant victories for religious freedom of our generation.”

The HHS mandate gave family businesses two non-choices: either violate your deeply held moral beliefs and comply by paying for drugs and services to which you object, or pay fines of up to $100 per day, per employee, for non-compliance.

This mandate threatened the jobs, livelihood and healthcare of millions of Americans and would have forced those who stood up for their conscience, like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, to either comply or Family Research Council President Tony Perkins also commented on the ruling, “All Americans can be thankful that the Court reaffirmed that freedom of conscience is a long-held American tradition and that the government cannot impose a law on American men and women that forces them to violate their beliefs in order to hold a job, own a business, or purchase health insurance....Thankfully, the threat the HHS mandate imposed on Americans has been deemed unlawful today as a violation of core religious freedom rights.

While we celebrate this landmark decision, it is our hope that lower courts will follow the Supreme Court's lead and protect non-profits like Little Sisters of the Poor, Priests for Life, and Wheaton College from the unfair HHS Mandate," concluded Perkins.