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High court seems divided over birth control rule

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Posted: Mar 25, 2014 11:08 AM
Updated: Mar 25, 2014 1:51 PM
Source: Associated Press

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Topics: supreme court, birth control, health care, religious beliefs

WASHINGTON - Do profit-making businesses have religious rights?

The Supreme Court is wrestling with that question in a case that involves two family-owned companies. The owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties provide health insurance to their employees but object to covering certain methods of birth control -- coverage that is required under the health care law. They say contraceptives that work after conception violate their religious beliefs.

The outcome could turn on the views of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who voiced concerns during today's 90-minute arguments about the rights of female employees, as well as the rights of business owners. At one point he questioned what rights women would have if their employers required them to wear conservative Islamic robes. Later in the argument he seemed troubled about how the logic of the government's argument would apply to abortions.

The three women on the court questioned whether blood transfusions and vaccinations would be subject to the same religious objections if the court ruled in favor of the businesses.

Chief Justice John Roberts at one point suggested the court could limit its ruling to apply to family owned companies.

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