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Thu, April 25

The day after: Locals react to Hobby Lobby court victory

Tom Scanlon/The Daily Courier<br>Shoppers at the Prescott Valley Hobby Lobby mostly voiced support for the company’s stance on birth control.

Tom Scanlon/The Daily Courier<br>Shoppers at the Prescott Valley Hobby Lobby mostly voiced support for the company’s stance on birth control.

The first sign that Hobby Lobby is a little different than most national chains is right on the front door: "Closed Sunday to allow employees time for their family and worship."

The family-owned company with 572 stores around the country says its executives' faith led it to challenge a contra-ception-funding provision of the Af-fordable Care Act.

Hobby Lobby fought the law and the craft store won.

On Monday, the Supreme Court sided with Hobby Lobby in a 5-4 ruling.

Hobby Lobby challenged the ACA requirement of providing funding for intrauterine devices and the "morning-after pill," which some view as abortions. The Supreme Court said it was unfair, under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, to require companies like Hobby Lobby "to provide health-insurance coverage for methods of contraception that violate the sincerely held religious beliefs of the companies' owners."

The ruling was praised by those who feel Obamacare goes too far, while it upset some women's rights proponents.

The ruling "is a blow to women's rights to make private personal decisions and their access to basic preventive healthcare, including contraception," said Brenda Thomas, CEO of Arizona Family Health Partnership.

Thomas' agency provides funding for Planned Parenthood family planning services.

Thomas said "an employer's personal beliefs can now significantly impact choices that they should have no right to affect."

The view was quite different at Prescott's Community Pregnancy Center, a Christian, pro-life ministry.

"I'm really glad (employers) can make that decision," said Ellen Swanson, client services director of CPC. "Individual companies can make that decision, just like people can make their own decision."

Brent DeSaye, executive director of CPC, said that, while the agency does not have an official opinion on the Hobby Lobby case, "Personally I think it's great - to have that freedom of choice."

How do the local Hobby Lobby workers feel?

A manager of the Hobby Lobby in Prescott Valley said she and her employees are not permitted to speak to media when they are working.

In the parking lot outside, several shoppers said they were happy to hear the news.

"I think it's great," said one woman, who chose not to give her name.

Nancy Smerdell of Prescott, a Hobby Lobby regular on her way to shop for posterboard, admitted she didn't know the details of the case.

"All I really know is they ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, and I think that's great," Smerdell said.

"It's the freedom we're missing. There's been too much government regulation."

Two women entering the store at the same time had different opinions (both did not give their names). "I think it's great - companies should be able to decide what they want," said one.

"I'm still deciding," said the other.

Another Hobby Lobby shopper was loading her kids and art supplies into her van. Smiling, the mother said she was all for the Supreme Court ruling in Hobby Lobby's favor.

"I'm happy they had the ability to exercise their rights," said the woman, who did not want her name used. "I think it's good."

That would be gospel music to the ears of Barbara Green, Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby's co-founder. "Our family is overjoyed by the Supreme Court's decision," she states, at hobbylobby.com. "The court's decision is a victory, not just for our family business, but for all who seek to live out their faith."

Here in Arizona, Thomas, for one, is not ready to give up the battle. "There's absolutely something worth fighting for," said Thomas. "I want women to be able to access birth control that is the best for them and their families."

Follow Tom Scanlon on Twitter @tomscanlonpress

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