, WASHINGTON, Jul 1 – Family-owned private companies can deny birth control coverage in their employee health care plans, the US Supreme Court said Monday in a ruling seen by some as a victory for religious freedom.
In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma-based chain of arts and crafts stores whose devout Christian owners, the Green family, balked at implementing the contraception portion of President Barack Obama’s health care reforms.
“Our family is overjoyed by the Supreme Court’s decision,” said Hobby Lobby co-founder Barbara Green as anti-abortion activists cheered the outcome at the Supreme Court steps.
“The Court’s decision is a victory not just for our family business, but for all who seek to live out their faith,” added Green in a statement.
It was the first legal test of specific provisions of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, which seeks to extend health insurance to all Americans – and which the Supreme Court in 2012 deemed constitutional.
Under Obamacare, religious employers – notably the Roman Catholic Church, which fiercely opposes contraception – don’t have to include birth control in their employee health care plans.