Group protests Hobby Lobby decision on birth control

Published: Saturday, July 5 2014 5:30 p.m. MDT

Updated: Saturday, July 5 2014 6:21 p.m. MDT

Members of Utah's chapter of the National Organization of Women protest Hobby Lobby in South Jordan on Saturday, July 5, 2014. Shelly Pace is on the left. Kyl Myers is center.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SOUTH JORDAN — About a dozen or so protestors took to the street with banners Saturday to convey their disapproval of the Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby contraceptives case.

"I can't think of a better way to spend the day after Independence Day than to exercise our constitutional right to protest," said Chelsea Kilpack, president of the Utah Chapter of the National Organization for Women.

It was a somewhat tense morning for Kilpack and the others. First, they were booted from the parking lot of the Hobby Lobby store in South Jordan by terse security guards, and throughout their morning protest they were angrily denounced as "baby killers" from a few passersby.

"There were a few people who got angry and were quite aggressive," said Kerissa Anaya, who drove from Brigham City to take part in the protest. "But I don't care about the name calling. It's worth it. My ovaries are my business and nobody else's."

Anaya said the 5-4 decision handed down June 30 by the high court is a tremendous setback for gender equality.

In the controversial case pitting advocates for religious liberty against women's rights groups, the court held that family owned companies do not have to pay for certain kinds of contraceptives because doing so imposes a substantial burden on religious liberty.

In its opinion, the court said while it is true the government has a compelling interest in making sure women have access to contraceptives, there are other ways to do that absent violating a company's religious rights.

The company objected to paying for emergency contraception such as Plan B and Ella, as well as two styles of intrauterine devices. It covers other kinds of contraception, including birth control pills, condoms and diaphragms, but argued against being forced to pay for all contraceptives as part of a requirement under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.

The landmark ruling is the first time the court has ruled that a for-profit company can rely on its "religious views" under federal law.

Anaya said the decision is a blow to women's rights and puts the country on a perilous path toward institutionalized discrimination.

"This sets us back for women's rights, and it completely sets us back as a country. This issue is huge," she said.

Kilpack said it was ironic and sad that loving fathers and mothers who showed up at the protest were being derided by some as "baby killers" because they objected to Hobby Lobby's position on contraceptives.

"We don't agree that men who are not using facts, that these judges are being allowed to dictate health care for entire families," she said.

Topher Mehlhoff had his boys, Grayson and Alex, in tow for the protest, balancing keeping an eye on them with showing solidarity with NOW.

"I disagree with the SCOTUS decision. America is wonderful because we have religious freedom, but I don't believe that your religion should limit my choices," he said.

Mehlhoff graduated and is in the final ordination as a minister for the United Church of Christ.

"Christ came and preached a message of love, and that love brought equality for men and women," he said. "To limit health care choices just for women is patently sexist and not something Christ would do."

Email: amyjoi@deseretnews.com, Twitter: amyjoi16

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