Republican New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer contend opponents of the recent U.S. Supreme Court “Hobby Lobby” decision are distorting the ruling by falsely suggesting that under the ruling, employers can deny their employees access to birth control.
In a joint opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday (click here for the full piece), Ayotte and Fischer write, “That’s flat-out false. Nothing in the Hobby Lobby ruling stops a woman from getting or filling a prescription for any form of contraception.
“Those who distort the court’s decision insist that one cannot support religious liberty and also support access to safe, affordable birth control. But these are principles that we, and millions of others, support. Americans believe strongly that we should be able to practice our religion without undue interference from the government. It’s a fundamental conviction that goes to the very core of our character—and dates back to the founding of our nation. The Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, which protects rights of conscience, reaffirmed our centuries-old tradition of religious liberty.”
The two senators write that the ruling applies only to businesses “whose owners have genuine religious convictions. In the Hobby Lobby case, the company’s owners — the Green family –offered health-care plans that provide coverage for 16 of the 20 FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices, including birth-control pills, required under the Affordable Care Act.
“The Greens only had moral objections to the remaining four methods, which they consider to be abortifacients. The family felt strongly that paying for insurance that includes these methods would compromise their deeply held religious belief that life begins at conception.”
The two senators note that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, on which the ruling was based, was introduced by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and supported in the House by then-U.S. Rep. Chuck Schumer, both Democdrats.
They write that when Democratic President Bill Clinton signed the bill, he said, “What this law basically says is that the government should be held to a very high level of proof before it interferes with someone’s free exercise of religion.”