Planned Parenthood: Religious Liberty/Hobby Lobby Suit is About ‘Taking Away Birth Control’

Penny Starr | March 4, 2014 | 1:55pm EST
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Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards (AP photo/Ron Edmonds).

( – In a Feb. 27 commentary in the liberal Huffington Post, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards claims that states’ efforts to protect the religious rights of citizens is really about “taking away birth control.”

Richards cited the Arizona legislation (SB 1062) recently vetoed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer that would have allowed individuals to not provide products or services if their provision required them to violate their religious belief in marriage between one man and one woman.

“With the debate over the Arizona bill during the last few days, folks across the country have gotten a preview of this extreme agenda, and they don't like what they see,” Richards wrote. “It's clear that this isn't about religious liberties.”

“It's about corporations who want a license to discriminate against people by denying services, taking away birth control coverage, and blocking access to health care,” said Richards, who presides over the largest abortion provider in the United States.

Richards also linked the Arizona legislation to the Sebilius v. Hobby Lobby case, currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS).  Hobby Lobby is suing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over an Obamacare regulation that requires individuals and business to carry health insurance that offers contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs without co-payments.

Hobby Lobby, a Christian, family-owned business, says the regulation violates their religious beliefs.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards and President Barack Obama. (AP)

The Obamacare rule is strongly opposed, as well, by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,  the Orthodox bishops, many evangelical Protestant leaders, and orthodox Jews.  (Ninety-three lawsuits representing more than 300 plaintiffs have been filed challenging HHS and Sebelius.)

Richards said a ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby could “have extraordinarily far-reaching consequences.”

“An employer could decide to cover reproductive health care for male employees, but take away birth control coverage for women,” Richards wrote. “A company could refuse to provide insurance coverage for HIV medication.”

“A bank could refuse to give loans to single mothers,” Richards said.

The Hobby Lobby website focused on the case has the following explanation about how the owners of Hobby Lobby are fighting the mandate set forth in the Affordable Care Act requiring employers to provide sterilizations and contraceptives to employees, including drugs that can cause abortion.

“On November 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., a case arising out of the commitment of the Green family, the sole owners of Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., to live out their religious convictions by “operating their company in a manner consistent with biblical principles,” the website states.

Customers are seen at a Hobby Lobby store in Denver on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.  Hobby Lobby says the Obamacare contraceptive mandate violates the religious beliefs of its owners. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

“These principles were put to the test when the federal government mandated that the Greens and their family businesses provide four specific potentially life-terminating drugs and devices through their employee health plan in conflict with their deeply held religious convictions,” reads the website.

It further says, “While the Green family has no moral objection to providing 16 of the 20 FDA-approved drugs and devices that are part of the federal mandate, providing drugs or devices that have the potential to terminate a life conflicts with their faith.”

In September 2012, the Greens and their family business filed suit, which resulted in the case coming before the Supreme Court.

The court will decide “whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) … which provides that the government  ‘shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion’ unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest, allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners.”

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