An Albany Law School professor who describes himself as a liberal Democrat said the Supreme Court made the “absolutely correct decision” in its ruling released Monday that states Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. can deny covering certain contraceptives for its employees.
The 5-4 court ruling is limited to closely held for-profit companies, those with five or fewer owners holding at least 50 percent of ownership, as opposed to publicly traded entities, striking down a provision of the Affordable Care Act.
Professor Vincent M. Bonventre said the case, while complex, comes down to a simple principle: “Either we believe in religious liberty or we don’t believe in religious liberty.”
Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York, based in Albany, expressed disapproval in the ruling.
“Today, the Supreme Court ruled against our nation’s women and families, giving bosses the right to discriminate against women and deny their employees access to birth control coverage,” Joan Malin, chairwoman of Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York, said in a statement.
“This is a troubling ruling that will prevent some women, especially those working hourly wage jobs and struggling to make ends meet, from getting birth control,” she added.
M. Tracey Brooks, the group’s president and CEO, said, “We’re currently evaluating the decision to determine the implications for New York state.”
Bonventre drew a distinction between women having a right to contraception and compelling a business owned by a handful of individuals to supply coverage for it.
“This decision is not saying women won’t get contraception,” he said. Rather, he said since the federal government already provides exemptions to nonprofit groups such as churches, it could figure out a way to provide contraception to women in need of it.
The professor also does not subscribe to the dissent written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who said the ruling could lead to for-profit companies denying coverage on religious grounds for services ranging from blood transfusions to vaccines. “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield,” she wrote.
“The court has made that clear in the past that those kind of absolute necessities for public and child health and safety necessarily trump laws of religion,” he said. “I don’t think we have too much to worry about that. . . . It’s a very narrow ruling.”
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