Supreme Court's Birth Control Decision Impacts Minnesota Companies

Updated: 06/30/2014 5:43 PM
Created: 06/30/2014 5:24 PM
By: Kate Renner

A decision was made by the U.S. Supreme Court that companies, and not just individuals, can hold religious beliefs. The decision involving craft chain Hobby Lobby led to strong reaction on both sides nationally and locally.

There are currently eight lawsuits in Minnesota pending the outcome of this Hobby Lobby decision; many of them had preliminary injunctions granted from the federal courts so they didn't have to offer health care to their employees due to their religious beliefs on contraception.

Now with this Supreme Court ruling, a precedent has been set for their cases.

Paul and Pat Archambault want to provide health insurance to their 15 employees at Stinson Electric, but they believe the government mandate to cover contraception clashes with their Roman Catholic morals.

"My wife and I had a really tough time making that decision and saying that we'd write those checks every month," Paul Archambault said. "For our conscience, we just can't accept that."

Paul Archambault got a temporary injunction and has already spent $10,000 fighting the same fight as Hobby Lobby, all the while still providing health insurance.

"We did continue our insurance; we're forced to carry over coverage against our objections," Archambault said.

The recent ruling gives the Archambaults more freedom to pick and choose what they cover.

"My wife and I were very relieved," Paul Archambault said.

But Planned Parenthood Executive Director Sarah Stoesz believes the ruling gives bosses too much control over their employees' health coverage.

"It is a deeply disappointing and very troubling decision," Stoesz said.

"They're encroaching more and more on the lives of their employees," said Dawn Swink, a professor of Business Ethics at University of St. Thomas. Swink believes the supreme court has written a new chapter in the rights of private businesses.

"It's monumental in that respect -- they've never before afforded religious belief to a corporation," Swink said.

Much like the 5-4 supreme court ruling, opinions are split, even the opinions within St. Thomas' Business Ethics department.

Another Business Ethics professor, Michael Naughton, said he believes this was a positive, important decision, and that business owners should be allowed to bring their values and morals into the workplace.

Customers walk to a Hobby Lobby store in Oklahoma City, Monday, June 30, 2014.
Photo: AP/Sue Ogrocki

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