Franken, DFL, NARAL blast Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling; Bachmann approves

Franken is disappointed, Bachmann encouraged by the court's ruling.
Franken is disappointed, Bachmann encouraged by the court's ruling.

Yesterday, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled family-owned for-profit businesses like Hobby Lobby cannot be required to provide contraceptive products to employees that don't accord with the owner's religious beliefs.

As we've covered, the owners at least three Minnesota companies -- Annex Medical, Skin Care Doctors, and the American Manufacturing Company -- have gone as far as to threaten they'll close if forced to pay for their employees' contraception. It looks like they'll no longer need to worry about shutting the doors, though their female employees will likely have to pay out of pocket for emergency contraception and intrauterine devices.

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Linnea House, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota, tells us she, as a woman, feels singled out by the Supreme Court's decision.

"Companies don't get to say, 'You can't have blood transfusions,' or other treatments they may have an objection to," House says. "[The ruling] only affects women, and that's particularly narrow and hurtful, I think."

Just before the ruling came down, NARAL distributed a press release placing the controversy in the context of Minnesota's U.S. Senate race.

"NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota is highlighting an important difference in the race for Senate as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hand down a critical decision on the future of women's health coverage," the release says. "[Mike] McFadden has told Minnesotans time and again he would repeal the Affordable Care Act if given the opportunity and take with it new protections for women, including the provision that requires employers provide contraceptive health insurance coverage for women... Senator Al Franken has strongly stood with Minnesota women and repeatedly spoken out against efforts to let employers make decisions for women about their health care."

In a statement sent to City Pages, Franken says he's "very disappointed" about the decision.

"This ruling will deny women access to the health care services they need and their doctors prescribe," Franken says. "A woman's boss should never be the one to make health care decisions for her -- these decisions should be between a woman and her doctor. Ninety-nine percent of women use birth control at some point in their lives, and more than half a million women in Minnesota have benefited from the requirement that insurance companies provide preventive health services free of charge -- including contraception."

The McFadden campaign didn't respond to an email seeking comment, but the DFL and MNGOP offered up opposed responses to the ruling.

(For more, click to page two.)

In a statement, DFL Chairman Ken Martin says the Hobby Lobby ruling is another example of Republicans opposing women's rights.

"After gains made under the Affordable Care Act for women's health care, the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby [ruling] moves women's decisions about their reproductive health backward," Martin says. "For-profit employers can now deny access to certain health care benefits based on their personal beliefs. This is a true setback for women."

"Elections have consequences and in November voters need to know that only by electing Democrats will women and families have advocates working on their behalf," he concludes.

Like McFadden, MNGOP Chair Keith Downey didn't respond to an email seeking comment, but he did offer up this opinion about the ruling on Twitter:

And of course Michele Bachmann, who once characterized Obamacare's contraceptive mandate as a step toward America instituting a one-child policy, is a big fan "job creators" using religion to restrict access to birth control. Here's her statement:

I am extremely encouraged by today's Supreme Court decision to uphold the religious liberty rights of the Green family of Hobby Lobby. At its core, today's decision was about the right of individual and family business owners to be free from government mandates that force them to deny their sincerely-held religious beliefs. America was founded on the principle of religious freedom, and there is nothing more fundamental than the First Amendment. This decision represents a tremendous victory for the basic constitutional rights of every American.

Polling released yesterday indicates 53 percent of Americans disagree with private employers being able to pick and choose forms of contraceptives they cover under health plans offered to their employees, while 35 percent agree with Hobby Lobby's position.

Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.

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