The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, which allows some for-profit businesses to claim a religious exemption to the federal mandate requiring employers to provide insurance benefits that fully cover contraception, has generated intense emotion on both sides.

Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, blasted the ruling as “a direct attack on women and our fundamental rights” from “five male justices.” Others hailed the ruling as a resounding win for freedom of conscience. What’s largely missing from the debate are the voices of feminists who believe it’s dangerous to tie women’s freedoms to government-mandated benefits.

It’s unclear how broad the ruling’s effects will be. The case applies to a specific type of business: corporations with a limited number of shareholders such as Hobby Lobby, the crafts-store chain. The court’s majority has held that, since religiously affiliated nonprofits such as schools and charities are partly exempt from the contraceptive coverage mandate (which they believe would force them to pay for abortion-inducing drugs and devices), family-owned businesses are entitled to the same exemption.

Framing the issue as a “war on women” is misguided and polarizing. …


Editor’s note: The full version of this article appears on the Opinion Exchange page of the July 2 issue of the Star Tribune, but because of licensing restrictions we cannot publish it in its entirety online. Readers can, however, visit the website of Newsday, where it originally appeared.