CHICAGO -- The U.S Supreme Court today issued a 5-4 ruling in favor of the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties lawsuits against the mandate handed down by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)requiring all employers to offer insurance coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilizations.
Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, issued the following statement on the ruling:
We are elated the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes and affirms the importance of religious freedom in the practice of business. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties have scored an important victory regarding religious conscience that we hope portends a triumph for religious-based and nonprofit employers pursuing similar lawsuits.
All of these cases challenge the federal mandate requiring insurance coverage of such objectionable services as abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilizations. But the issue at hand goes far beyond birth control, which today’s ruling addresses.
The issue strikes at the heart of the first 16 words of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. …”
As we approach the Fourth of July and the celebration of our country’s independence, we in the Catholic Church observe our third annual “Fortnight for Freedom” from July 21-July 4, in recognition of America’s first freedom – religious freedom. We breathe a sigh of relief that it has been affirmed.