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Fairfield County Lawmakers Decry Supreme Court Decision On Contraceptives

Congressman Jim Himes and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy spoke Monday about their concerns for the future of corporate identities with the recent Supreme Court decision.
Congressman Jim Himes and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy spoke Monday about their concerns for the future of corporate identities with the recent Supreme Court decision. Photo Credit: Alissa Smith

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Lawmakers from across Fairfield County expressed concerns with the Supreme Court ruling Monday that gives family-owned corporations the power to deny insurance coverage for birth control based on the employer’s religious beliefs.

The lawsuit of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. was taken to the Supreme Court after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts chain based in Oklahoma, argued that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it should not be required to provide birth control as part of its health insurance.

On Monday morning, the Supreme Court released its decision, voting 5-4 in favor of the chain’s arguments.

“The idea that we are going to allow individual employers to decide on health care choices is concerning,” U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said Monday in Fairfield. He said the decision creates a dangerous precedent for the future about health care. “It’s a slippery slope.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th District) agreed, saying, “It just strikes me as a big step backward.”

When the question about providing birth control through insurance came from the Catholic Church, Himes said he supported it because that objection came from an established moral in the church.

“Employers' personal views should play absolutely no role in determining whether a woman can get access to vital family planning services," Himes said. "A woman's health decisions should be up to her and her doctor, not her boss."

The sentiment was echoed throughout Connecticut's Democratic federal delegation.

“Today’s ruling is misguided and extremely troubling,” said U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-5th District). In a tweet she added, “Very disappointed by #SCOTUS ruling in #HobbyLobby. A woman's health care decision should NOT be up to her employer #NotMyBossBusiness.”

The decision says that corporations ethics are more important than a woman's personal freedoms, said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

“This decision undermines millions of American women's access to birth control. Religious liberty is about the right to practice your religion, not the right to impose your religion on your employees,” Blumenthal said.

From the state level, both Gov. Dannel Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman added their voices to the rising concern from Democrats.

“While we should all respect each other’s right to hold different positions based on religious beliefs, women should not be denied access to reproductive healthcare benefits due to the personal beliefs of their employer. Today’s decision from the Supreme Court is an affront to that very basic and fundamental idea,” said Malloy.

For Wyman, the decision made by the Supreme Court allows for companies to start “carving out exemptions to medicines or treatment is tantamount to restricting access—it puts women at risk and that is unacceptable. This Supreme Court decision reminds us that we have a lot left to do in our fight for equity for women.”

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