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Orthodox Jewish Groups Cheer Contraception Ruling

Monday, June 30, 2014

WNYC
People who support Hobby Lobby's choice to withhold contraceptive healthcare coverage from their employees rally outside the US Supreme Court March 25, 2014 in Washington, DC. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty)

Influential Orthodox Jewish groups in New York applauded Monday's Supreme Court ruling that allows family-owned companies with religious objections to opt out of mandates requiring insurance coverage for certain types of birth control — even though the groups don't actually object to funding contraception.

"We believe that the larger issue of religious freedom was at stake here and it was very important to weigh in because of that reason," said Rabbi Abba Cohen, vice president for federal affairs at Agudath Israel of America.

The Supreme Court decision came after two Christian-owned companies challenged a contraception coverage mandate in the new healthcare law on religious grounds. Agudath Israel, the Rabbinical Council of America and other orthodox groups filed an amicus brief with the court siding with the companies.

"There are definite issues where you could have general laws that could infringe upon the religious freedom of Orthodox Jews that we would be concerned about," said Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy at the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, one of the groups that filed the brief. Such laws could include the banning of certain kosher slaughtering techniques or requirements that businesses stay open on Saturdays.

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Comments [10]

Daniel Hanniger from Israel

If they want contraception, they should pay for it themselves. If contraception is some kind of civil right, then bicycle helmets are a civil right, and so are any other products recommended by medical experts to use during activities.

Jul. 04 2014 12:21 AM

People commenting on this article all seem to be missing the point: The Orthodox Jewish groups are not trying to control women or anyone else, are not trying to impose religion or restrict contraception—none of that.

Their only interest in the matter—as correctly reported by WNYC—is to protect the principle that you don’t lose your religious rights by engaging in business. Even if they disagreed with the particular objections Hobby Lobby was making, this principle is worth defending.

Jul. 01 2014 04:15 PM
uptowner from New York, NY

Am I confused? Whenever I read articles about this, and even this particular brief discussion what I am seeing is that these religious groups object to paying for certain types of contraception; not that they completely object to paying for contraception.

So, if I work for a company that is willing to pay for 16 out of 20 types of birth control, how am I being hurt or put at a disadvantage? If I feel I may need those 4 particular types of birth control (because IUDs are soooo appealing) nobody is preventing me from using my FSA/HSA to pay for them.

I think it would be a completely different thing if some groups were trying to get the FDA to remove their approval of contraceptives, period. Then I would definitely say my freedom was being curtailed and my choices were being limited.

Jul. 01 2014 02:40 PM
John Summers

I don't know why Orthodox Jews would even care about this decision, birth control isn't in their world. From what I see, they're breeding abundantly. Birth control is good health care because the option is either an unwanted child, (just today I witnessed a pathetic excuse of a father walking next to his daughter as she peddled her little bike while crying. He used every foul word in the book looking clearly resentful and put out at having to babysit? Who knows but it was sad and disturbing to witness.), or worse.

The alternative is devastating to the mother psychologically.

When is American going to truly be a separation of Church and State? Doesn't look like it is now.

Jul. 01 2014 01:27 PM

I think it is significant that the women justices all voted against the ruling ... none joined the men in the affirmative.

By the way ... there are only nine justices on the court. FDR tried to increase it, but he was not successful.

Justices Scalia, Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Kennedy, Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan and Sotomayor.

Jul. 01 2014 12:11 PM
Tiber Caey from nyc

Harder access to birth control means more abortions and kids on welfare.

The silver lining to this case is that SCOTUS said that the government or insurance companies could pay for it directly, which is what Obama did for nonprofit religious companies. Those companies are suing now so they don't have to provide any contraception at all--very doubtful SCOTUS will suddenly reverse course if it just said that government paying is okay.

Jul. 01 2014 12:10 PM

What about infringement upon the health freedom of women? Why does religion trump that? Oh yeah, because the system is run by mostly men: 8 men versus 4 women on the Supreme Court:
http://www.supremecourt.gov/about/biographies.aspx

Jul. 01 2014 11:57 AM
Fred from Brooklyn

Shepsie is half-right: so-called "religious principles" have to do with controlling, but not just women. It has to do with controlling women and everyone else, whether they agree with these "principles" or not. Prayer in public schools, prayer before public meetings, displays of religious icons in public buildings, as well as anti-choice laws, deciding which contraceptives are acceptable, etc. all come from the same mindset: that the Bible or the Torah should decide what's good for you and be codified in civil law, not you decide what's good for you. Yet these same folks will support right-wing candidates who run on "get government out of our lives." I wish someone could explain why that's not total hypocrisy.

Jul. 01 2014 09:56 AM

Shepsl’s comment is perhaps applicable to Hobby Lobby’s position (though that is itself arguable). It is completely irrelevant to this story, though: Agudath Israel and the Orthodox Union have no position on contraception; they were concerned about the precedent regarding religious liberty in other situations.

Jul. 01 2014 08:45 AM
Shepsl from Queens

Once again the so-called religious principles only apply to controlling women.

Jul. 01 2014 07:29 AM

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