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Some pro, some con on Supreme Court ruling

Valerie Rucinski 78 Hickory Hills said Supreme Court's ruling themployers don't have cover contraceptitheir insurance was strike against women's rights.

Valerie Rucinski, 78, of Hickory Hills, said the Supreme Court's ruling that employers don't have to cover contraception in their insurance was a strike against women's rights. | Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media

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Reaction was mixed Monday in the Southland to the Supreme Court ruling that says certain corporations can hold religious objections that allow them to opt out of the new health care law’s requirement that they cover contraceptives for women.

The justices’ 5-4 decision on Monday is the first time that the high court has ruled that for-profit businesses can hold religious views under federal law. And it means that the Obama administration must find a different way of providing free contraception to women who are covered under objecting companies’ health insurance plans.

Contraception is among the preventive services that must be provided at no extra charge under the health care law that President Barack Obama signed in 2010 and the Supreme Court upheld two years later.

The law’s birth control mandate was challenged by Hobby Lobby, the arts-and-crafts retailer that has two stores in the Southland. Its stores are closed on Sundays so employees can attend church services, according to signs at each location.

On Monday, shoppers outside the Bridgeview and Tinley Park stores had differing views on the Supreme Court’s ruling. Some called it a blow against Obamacare, while others thought was a strike against women’s rights.

Outside the Bridgeview store, 8825 Harlem Ave., Eleanor Wierzbicki, of Worth, said she supports the ruling because she thinks companies such as Hobby Lobby “have a right to deny it (birth control coverage) because it’s their religious rights.” Wierzbicki, “born and raised Roman Catholic,” said she enjoys shopping at the store “because everyone is friendly and it’s a Christian atmosphere.”

Chuck Gilberto, of Burbank, sees the ruling as a blow to Obamacare, adding that the government “has a lot more things to worry about than contraception.

“People can buy them on their own. It sounds like a First Amendment issue to me, freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Nobody is taking contraception away from anybody, are they? They can still go buy it. There you go. Problem solved,” Gilberto said.

But Valerie Rucinski, 78, of Hickory Hills, disagrees with the ruling, which she considers “a strike against Obamacare and against women.

“I don’t think this is right. I don’t think all the women working for Hobby Lobby are born-again Christians, and they may want birth control,” Rucinski said. “... Or if a couple is just starting out and doesn’t want to start a family.”

That sentiment was shared by Mary and Tom Farrelly, of Burbank, who said they were dismayed with the ruling. Mary said companies should offer birth control coverage, adding that a “company can’t decide morals.”

Her husband agreed, saying that while Hobby Lobby and other opponents “are entitled to beliefs, they’re an employer. If I had people working for me, I’d have to provide them with insurance. It’s up to (employees) to do what they want to do (in their private lives).”

Mary found it ironic that Hobby Lobby has no problems selling items and making money from customers who may not share corporate management’s strong religious beliefs.

A customer at the Tinley Park store, 7061 W. 159th St., agreed with the Supreme Court decision.

“The government is just getting out of control telling people what they can and can’t do. This Obamacare thing is going to turn out to be a huge mess,” Angela Nicholson, of Tinley Park, said.

At least one Illinois congressman, U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-3rd, is pleased with Monday’s decision, saying it “has protected religious liberty.

“The bipartisan Religious Freedom Restoration Act — signed into law by President Bill Clinton 20 years ago — reaffirmed one of the core principles on which our nation was founded by prohibiting the government from burdening the free exercise of religion without a compelling state interest. The court ruled that in this case the (birth control mandate) violates this law,” Lipinski said in a prepared statement. “Protecting religious liberty should not be viewed as a partisan issue. It is a fundamental right spelled out in the First Amendment of the Constitution.”

Contributing: The Associated Press and staff writer Mike Nolan



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