Contraceptives ruling draws mixed reaction in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesotans offered mixed reaction Monday to a Supreme Court's decision that allows companies to stop covering contraceptives based on religious objections.

The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit from by the owners of the Hobby Lobby chain, and other business owners that objected to the Affordable Care Act mandate that contraceptives be covered as part of preventive care.

"Whether people agree with the contraceptive mandate or not, we should be glad that government should not be so powerful as to dictate our conscience," Carl Nelson, the president of Transform Minnesota, told KARE.

"And this is a victory for people regardless of which religion they follow."

Transform Minnesota is a network of 160 evangelical churches in the state, and as an organization opposes abortion. Nelson said that Hobby Lobby did not object to all forms of birth control, but is opposed to IUD's and "morning after" pills designed to end a pregnancy after an egg is fertilized.

"It was specifically four drugs on the list Hobby Lobby believed were abortion causing drugs, so the morning after pill and things like that, that actually took the life of a child," Nelson said.

The ruling coincided with the opening of a new Planned Parenthood women's health clinic in Richfield. The high court's ruling drew criticism there.

"It's wrong that the Supreme Court is allowing bosses to decide whether or not to cover a woman's basic health care needs," Sarah Stoesz, the president of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota North and South Dakota, remarked.

"Women spend more money on birth control than they spend on any other form of healthcare in their lifetimes, and it can be very expensive if it's not covered."

Stoesz predicted that most private employers will continue to cover the full spectrum of contraceptives. Planned Parenthood, which adjusts fees based on ability to pay, will continue providing contraceptives along with other reproductive health services.

"Here at this clinic we provide birth control, we provide life-saving cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections; or basic preventive care," Stoesz explained.

The new clinic features a bilingual staff in anticipation of the high number of Spanish speaking patients. Some of the staff came from a midtown Minneapolis clinic that closed its doors.

And while doctors won't be performing abortions at the new Richfield clinic, the grand opening still drew picketers.

Roughly 100 pro life demonstrators arrived at the corner of 66th St. and Lyndale Ave. South and remained there for the duration of the event. Some of them prayed the rosary and carried bilingual protest signs, reflecting the clinic's clientele.

"I've always thought they should be called 'planned un-parenthood' instead of Planned Parenthood," James Jansen of Minneapolis, one of the demonstrators said.

"To see something like this open in the community under the guise of being a clinic just seems wrong."

Congressman Keith Ellison of Minneapolis, on hand for the clinic ribbon cutting, took issue with the Supreme Court's decision.

"If you can't plan your family, the size of your family, spacing of your children, things like that, this is a barrier in the way of your ability to succeed," Rep. Ellison said.

But his fellow Member of Congress, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, applauded the ruling.

"Nobody should be forced to violate their moral conscience. No one should be forced by the government to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs," Bachmann told reporters at a highway ground breaking ceremony in St. Michael.

"That's what the supreme court recognized. So that's a very positive decision."


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