Udall, Gardner split on U.S. Supreme Court birth-control ruling

Colorado politicos were divided on party lines on the  U.S. Supreme Court ruling announced today, which stated that the Affordable Care Act cannot force closely held companies to cover contraceptives in employee insurance plans if the corporation owners have religious objections to birth control.

“The Court made the right decision today to protect religious liberty and the First Amendment,” said U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-CD4, in a statement. Gardner is running for the Colorado Senate seat occupied by Democrat Mark Udall.

Gardner went on to advocate for making over-the-counter contraceptives available without a prescription, a campaign platform he has recently added.

“The Food and Drug Administration now needs to move quickly to make oral contraceptives available to adults without a prescription,” Gardner said in his statement. “This easy step will make oral contraceptives both accessible and affordable for every woman who wants them.”
Sen. Udall, on the other hand, criticized the decision, saying that it places a woman’s employer in the middle of family planning and decision making.

“A woman’s personal health decisions about choosing to use contraception and when to start a family should stay strictly between her and her doctor – not her boss,” Udall said in a statement.

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision unacceptably takes these choices out of doctors’ offices and into the workplace. Our laws should empower Colorado women to make their own decisions based on their own beliefs, not the beliefs of the person signing their paycheck,” he said.

The matter was brought before the Supreme Court in Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. v. Sebelius after craft-supply store Hobby Lobby protested being required to provide contraceptive coverage to employees, stating that the company’s owners had religious objections to birth control. The company is famous for paying employees well, relative to other retailers, and closing on Sundays so that employees can attend church and spend time with their families.

The court ruled 5-4 that the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act does not allow the federal government to force private companies to cover birth control methods such as the morning-after pill and intrauterine devices, which some religious groups say are equivalent to abortions.

“We must decide whether the challenged (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) regulations substantially burden the exercise of religion, and we hold that they do,” the court’s majority opinion states. The opinion was read by Justice Samuel Alito Monday morning.

“The owners of the businesses have religious objections to abortion, and according to their religious beliefs the four contraceptive methods at issue are abortifacients,” the opinion states.  Abortifacients are drugs or other substances that will cause a miscarriage.