SAN ANTONIO - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that certain for-profit family-owned corporations can't be forced to pay for certain types of contraception for their employees.
The 5-4 decision in favor of arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby and one other company marks the first time the court has ruled that religious views can be cited under federal law.
Michael Ariens, a St. Mary's University law professor, said the ruling comes down to how a private company looks at when conception begins.
"It's not the government's job to tell people how they should run their business," Ariens said.
Ariens said the question now for the Obama adminstration and its Affordable Care Act may be how to accommodate private businesses, like Hobby Lobby, that claim religious objections while also extending contraceptive coverage to female workers.
The methods of contraception at issue were emergency contraceptives Plan B and other intrauterine devices that abort a pregnancy.
"Those companies believe through their owners that life begins at conception and four of these types of birth control use birth control after there has been conception," Ariens said.
The ruling applies only to corporations that are under the control of just a few people. Hobby Lobby is a private company with no stock holders.
Ariens said if you don't agree with their philosophy, you can shop elsewhere.
"It's the same with all types of corporations, you can choose to shop there or not. That's one of the freedoms we have as Americans," Ariens said.
Ariens said the legal challenge is the first concerning a specific aspect of the Affordable Care Act that's gone before the Supreme Court. Other lawsuits have been challenged in district courts or court of appeals.
Ariens said he expects more legal challenges with the Affordable Care Act because it's such a wide-ranging law that affects a lot of people.
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