Orthodox Jewish Groups Cheer Contraception Ruling

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.