Valley reacts to Supreme Court decision to take up contraception coverage

FRESNO, California

On Tuesday, the justices agreed to review provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which would require employers of a certain size to offer health insurance coverage for birth control and other reproductive services, without co-pay.

At issue is whether private companies can refuse to abide by the law's mandate that health insurance policies include free coverage of government-approved forms of contraception on the grounds it violates their religious beliefs.

"It's like they're implementing their beliefs on someone else and I don't think that's right," said John Ellis of Fresno. "I just think religion should be kept out of it. Somebody should not be denied the right to be provided contraceptives or birth control just because of their company's beliefs and not theirs."

Valley families are torn on whether the Supreme Court should allow corporations to opt-out of the Obamacare mandate requiring companies with 50 or more workers to offer health insurance coverage for contraceptives as part of a preventative care package for women.

"I also have my religious or Christianity beliefs as well, but I think when it comes down to contraceptives, I think sometimes we take that totally out of context," said Fresno Mom Corrina Rivera. "Whether we choose to use contraceptives or not, I don't think that takes us away from our walk with God."

Churches and other houses of worship were excluded from the mandate, and some religious institutions, such as universities, were allowed to have insurers offer the benefit directly. But organizations such as Right to Life Central California believe exceptions should also be extended to companies like Hobby Lobby. The chain of more than 500 arts-and-crafts stores is one of more than 50 corporations with a pending lawsuit filed in federal court.

We firmly believe that a corporation is just a collection of individuals and we believe that in the case of Hobby Lobby, they should have just as much right to religious freedom for themselves and for their employees as they would if they were just an individual," said Executive Director Jonathan Keller.

Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, estimates that providing the coverage would save women up to $700 a year. Money, spokesperson Pedro Elias, says women could use towards putting food on the table in a down economy. He argues women should have access to birth control should they need it as well as have the ability to plan their family.

"It should be a decision that's made between a woman and her family not necessarily a woman and her boss when it comes to contraception being available for her," he said.

Three federal appeals courts around the country have struck down the contraception coverage rule, while two other appeals courts have upheld it, making the Supreme Court review more likely.

Oral arguments are likely to occur in March with a ruling in June.

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