Partisans in Kentucky bicker over SCOTUS decision on contraceptive mandate

06/30/2014 12:02 PM

After the United States Supreme Court ruled Monday that employers with religious objections can opt out of providing contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act, Kentucky politicians were just as divided over the issue as the justices.

Republicans praised the 5-4 decision by the court in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case, which sought to exclude companies with religious owners from complying with the health care law’s requirement that they provide all Food and Drug Administration-approved forms of birth control in their health plans.

Kentucky U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, who filed a brief in the case arguing that the mandate violates Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, applauded the decision as a victory for religious freedoms.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision makes clear that the Obama administration cannot trample on the religious freedoms that Americans hold dear,” McConnell said. “Obamacare is the single worst piece of legislation to pass in the last 50 years, and I was glad to see the Supreme Court agree that this particular Obamacare mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

McConnell’s Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, said while she agreed with the exemption of churches on the grounds of religious beliefs, Grimes said the court made the wrong decision when it comes to companies.

“I support the right of all American women to have full access to contraception, and respect the exemption of churches from providing this service, if it is against their teachings,” Grimes said. “While I think the Supreme Court got it wrong today regarding corporations, in cases where employers are found to be exempt from requirements that they provide such coverage, affordable insurance should be made available.”

Kentucky’s lone Democratic Congressman, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, went further, describing the decision as an “affront to women’s health” because of the precedent it could set.

“The court has introduced a new threat to women’s reproductive rights, placing the personal religious beliefs of employers over the health care needs of their female employees. No one should come between a woman and her doctor – including her boss,” Yarmuth said.

But the Republican members of Kentucky’s federal delegation, including Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul, said the decision seeks to protect the freedoms of citizens.

“Religious liberty will remain intact and all Americans can stay true to their faith without fear of big government intervention or punishment,” Paul said. “Our nation was founded on the principle of freedom, and with this decision, America will continue to serve as a safe haven for those looking to exercise religious liberty.”

Similarly, Congressman Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, said the decision proves that the health care law contains government overreach.

“No employer should be forced to comply with a federal mandate to provide drugs or procedures that violate their religious beliefs. Obamacare sought to infringe on these freedoms and I am pleased that today’s decision restored employers’ rights to make decisions in line with their conscience,” Guthrie said.

Congressman Andy Barr, R-Lexington, also called the decision a victory and committed to continuing his efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“I applaud Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood for taking a stand against Obamacare’s attack on religious liberty and complete disregard for our First Amendment rights,” Barr said.

Barr faces a Democratic challenger, Elisabeth Jensen, in his re-election race. Jensen said on twitter that the decision was bad for women and for “hard-working Kentucky families.”

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