ELIZABETHTOWN — The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a small blow to the Affordable Care Act this week when it ruled that businesses could opt out of coverage for contraceptives for women due to religious beliefs or practices of the owners.
In the case of Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby, the ruling was 5-4 in favor of allowing Hobby Lobby and others to deny insurance coverage for women for contraceptives based on religious beliefs or practices.
According to The Washington Post, Hobby Lobby, which is owned by the Green family of Oklahoma, was joined in the lawsuit by Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation. The contraceptive mandate was not part of the law itself, but rather included in regulatory language carried within the law. The Washington Post said due to the ruling, women who work for for-profit companies whose owners have religious objections to contraceptives, may be impacted by this week’s Supreme Court decision.
The Washington Post points out that all three sitting female justices were on the dissenting opinion.
Locally, many folks feel the ruling was a small victory for religious freedom and the freedom for individuals to practice their religious beliefs.
Bladen Baptist Association’s Bruce Cannon said, “I am very concerned at how the government is seemingly taking away so many rights the church has had … I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision.”
The Rev. Chris Carroll of the Elizabethtown Baptist Church echoed his thoughts.
“We are thankful the Supreme Court has recognized and affirmed the founding father’s desire this be a nation that offers all individuals life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This really allows individuals the religious freedom to allow their faith to guide their lives,” said Carroll.
“It’s a win for the country and individuals. It is not an attack on individuals,” he added.
Carroll said, however, the ruling is a just one step along the way.
“I am very grateful our nation recognizes the importance of allowing people to have their faith guide their lives,” said Carroll.
A voicemail left for Bladen County Democratic Party Chairman William Hemphill was unreturned as of press time.