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FL Reacts to Contraception Ruling

Tom Beckwith, a Largo small-business owner, welcomed the news that he would not have to pay for his employees’ access to certain products that he thinks cause abortions. But Arlene Davidson, state policy director for a Jewish women’s group, viewed the news as a major defeat for women.  

The news, of course, was a 5-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court released Monday that exempts owners of closely held companies -- which includes most firms in the country -- from having to cover birth control under the Affordable Care Act. The high court said the mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Reactions to the ruling in Florida have been mixed:

  • Beckwith, who owns Beckwith Electric, said he is relieved he will not have to violate his religious beliefs. Beckwith said he has no problems providing coverage for pills or devices that prevent conception, but refused to cover anything that terminates a pregnancy, according to The Tampa Tribune.
  • Ave Maria University was thrilled by the decision, even though the ruling applies only to for-profit ompanies and not the university, which is affiliated with the Catholic Church. According to The Tampa Tribune, the school plans to continue its lawsuit against the government over the birth control mandate.
  •  Democrats and women’s rights groups were disappointed. U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said it interferes with women’s access to healthcare, The Tampa Bay Timesreports. But longtime Obamacare opponents like U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio used the ruling as a new opportunity to criticize the law.
  • University of Florida law professor Steven Willis, who has been heavily involved in the case,  welcomed the ruling, according to The Gainesville Sun.  Willis, faculty advisor for the Christian Legal Society at the UF Levin College of Law, filed a court brief in the case, arguing that individuals do not give up their religious rights when they form a corporation.
Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.