by Jim Nintzel
Congressman Ron Barber and Republican Martha McSally have responded to the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision, which supports the right of closely held companies to deny birth-control coverage and other medical services if the owners have a religious objection. Barber is upset by the decision; McSally says the issue "is not whether women should have access to contraception without cost, but whether the Obamacare mandates and substantial penalties are the legal way to provide that access."
Barber's statement from Monday:
Today’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby allows the beliefs of corporations to trample the rights of employees, especially the rights of women. All employees—men and women—must be free to make their own health care choices with their doctors and without interference from their employer. I will continue fighting to protect the right of all women to make their own health care decisions.
I support women's access to contraception as well as the protection of religious liberty. Unlike many commenting on the U.S. Supreme Court verdict, I actually took the time to read the opinion and my statement here is based on the facts of the very narrow ruling. At issue is not whether women should have access to contraception without cost, but whether the Obamacare mandates and substantial penalties are the legal way to provide that access. The court ruled that the Obamacare mandate for employers to provide twenty methods of contraception for free, including four post-fertilization methods, substantially burdens the religious freedom of closely held companies owned by individuals with sincerely held religious beliefs that life begins at conception. The court ruled that the mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which "prohibits the Federal Government from taking any action that substantially burdens the exercise of religion unless that action constitutes the least restrictive means of serving a compelling government interest.
I agree with the majority of the court that the Obamacare mandate and penalties are not the least restrictive means of providing women access to contraception. Health and Human Services already identified a work-around for religious non-profits and I agree with the court that this work-around can apply in these narrow circumstances as well. But now we need to be focused on how we ensure more women have access to health care. The fact that we’re in this position shows exactly what’s wrong with Obamacare. It tries to force individuals and business owners into compliance through mandates and penalties, and, as we’ve seen, has actually hurt women’s access to health care through cancelled policies and reduced choice. I support patient-centered reform that ensures all women have access to affordable health care.