PORTLAND, Ore. -

As across the country, the reaction among Oregon groups and lawmakers was fast and strong to Monday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling on private employers who refuse to pay for certain contraception methods.

Here we've stitched together their full, unedited statements:

News release from Sen. Jeff Merkley:

Merkley: Hobby Lobby Decision is ‘Tremendous Blow’ to Women’s Access to Fundamental Health Care

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., released the following statement Monday after the Supreme Court decision in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

“This decision is a tremendous blow to the ability of women to have access to fundamental health care. The Supreme Court’s decision could jeopardize contraception coverage for millions of women who rely on it.

“Women in this country should be able to make their own health care choices. Bosses and CEOs shouldn’t be able to impose their own personal views on their workers’ health care. 

"The Supreme Court decision will make it more difficult for women to make critical personal health choices and shows just how far we still have left to go to ensure total equality for women in the workplace and, unfortunately, even in the doctor’s office. 

“Allowing CEOs to control whether or not their workers have contraception coverage is a dangerous precedent.

"As Justice Ginsberg stated in her dissent, this decision could allow companies to ‘opt out of any law … they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.’

"Based on the reasoning of this opinion, employers could deny employees access to other essential health care such as inoculations, blood transfusion, or surgeries. This is an unacceptable intrusion of bosses into personal health options.

“The Affordable Care Act made gender-based health care discrimination a thing of the past and unfortunately today, the Supreme Court has taken us backwards,” Merkley concluded.

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Release from Oregon Right to Life:

 The SCOTUS Strikes Down HHS Mandate
Ruling upholds religious freedom for business-owners in America

In a close 5-4 ruling, in the case of Burwell v. Hobbly Lobby, the Supreme Court struck down the HHS mandate this morning.  They ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood and other companies, which, on the basis of their religious conviction, objected to being forced to pay for employee insurance covering sterilization, contraception, and abortion-inducing drugs without co-payments.

This is the first serious blow to President Obama's Affordable Care Act since the SCOTUS upheld much of it in a constitutionality suit several years ago. The 5-4 opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, says the government failed to show that the contraception mandate is the least restrictive means of advancing its interest in guaranteeing access to free birth control. Justice Anthony Kennedy said the government could choose to pay for contraception coverage itself, if it is so determined that women have such coverage.

Some groups believed the mandate would have inevitably had the opposite reaction the government supposedly intended.

Independent Women's Forum Hadley Heath Manning said: "By removing price competition from birth control markets, the mandate would have driven up the cost of drugs for women who remain uninsured, and may have discouraged condom use among those who are insured. We are thankful that the Court ruled today that closely-held corporations will not be required to follow this misguided policy."

Executive Director Gayle Atteberry commented after hearing the decision: "I am thrilled with this win for religious freedom in America. Contraception has and will remain readily accessible at low cost to women who want it. The HHS Mandate was simply another attempt by the most pro-abortion Presidential administration of all time to force Americans to set aside their convictions and support abortion by paying for abortion-inducing drugs."

Read the decision here.

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News release from Planned Parenthood:

PLANNED PARENTHOOD: SUPREME COURT RULES AGAINST OREGON WOMEN AND FAMILIES

PlannedParenthood organizations in Oregon condemned today's ruling by the Supreme Court that some for-profit private corporations, such as the arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby, can deny coverage of birth control to their employees, for no reason other than the personal religious beliefs of the corporation's owners.

Stacy M. Cross, President & CEO of PlannedParenthood Columbia Willamette, said: "Today, the Supreme Court ruled against Oregon women and families, giving bosses the right to discriminate against women and deny their employees access to birth control coverage. This is a deeply disappointing and troubling ruling that will prevent some women, especially those working hourly wage jobs and struggling to make ends meet, from getting birth control."

Cynthia Pappas, President & CEO of PlannedParenthood of Southwestern Oregon, said: "This ruling does not strike down the Affordable Care Act's birth control benefit. Today, about 360,000 Oregon women are eligible for birth control with no co-pay thanks to this benefit, and the vast majority of them will not be affected by this ruling. But for those who are affected, this ruling will have real consequences."

Laura Terrill Patten, Executive Director of PlannedParenthood Advocates of Oregon, said: "It's unbelievable that in 2014, we're still fighting about whether women should have access to birth control. Some politicians want to get rid of the birth control benefit entirely and take away coverage from millions of women. To the majority of Americans, birth control is not a controversial issue. Birth control is basic health care - and it's only a 'social issue' if you've never had to pay for it.

"We hope most businesses will do the right thing and let women make their own health care decisions. We urge Congress to act and protect women's access to birth control, regardless of the personal views of their employer."

BACKGROUND

After decades of discriminatory coverage by insurance companies, the birth control benefit requires all insurance policies to cover birth control with no out-of-pocket cost to women -- rightly categorizing birth control as part of women's basic preventive care. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 30 million women nationally are already eligible for this benefit. When the law is fully implemented, 47 million women nationally will have access to no-copay birth control thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Thanks to the birth control benefit, women already have saved $483 million in the last year alone. Studies also show that women who receive birth control with no co-pay or at a reduced cost are able to avoid more than two million unplanned pregnancies each year, which also reduces the need for abortion. It's not surprising that the public overwhelmingly supports the birth control benefit by a nearly two-to-one margin.

Birth control is tremendously important to women for all kinds of reasons, including the need to control certain medical conditions and to plan our families. Under the birth control benefit, women have access to this important preventive care at no cost.

* The wide availability of birth control has been an enormous benefit for countless women and their families -- enabling them to support themselves financially, complete their education, and plan their families and have children when they're ready.

* Virtually all (99 percent) American women between the ages of 15 and 44 who are sexually active have used birth control at some time.

* A 2010 survey found that more than a third of female voters have struggled to afford prescription birth control at some point in their lives, and as a result, used birth control inconsistently. This isn't surprising considering copays for birth control pills typically range between $15 and $50 per month -- up to $600 per year.

* Other methods, such as IUDs, can cost several hundred dollars, even with health insurance. For the first time, under the birth control benefit, IUDs are now fully covered by insurance companies without additional out-of-pocket expense.

* For many women, birth control is used for a host of health care reasons. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 58 percent of birth control pill users cite health benefits as a contributing factor for using the birth control pill, including treating endometriosis, menstrual pain, and menstrual regulation.

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PlannedParenthood Columbia Willamette is the largest nonprofit family planning and reproductive rights organization in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Since 1963, PPCW has successfully carried out its mission of providing, promoting and protecting access to quality reproductive and sexual health care. Each year, more than 55,000 women, men and teens visit one of PPCW's health centers. PPCW provides a wide range of education programs and health care services, including lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, emergency contraception, gynecological check-ups and Pap tests, breast exams, pregnancy testing and options information, and health counseling. Less than 5 percent of PPCW's health services are for abortion services.

PlannedParenthood of Southwestern Oregon has been dedicated to providing expert reproductive health care and sexuality education in Southwestern Oregon for more than 47 years. PPSO sees 24,000 patients each year at seven health centers. PPSO is also the region's most respected provider of medically accurate sexuality education for young people and adults, as well as training programs for professionals who work with youth and families. Education and training programs make more than 25,000 contacts each year, transforming the lives of young people in Southwestern Oregon. PPSO's essential health services include breast and cervical cancer screenings, well-woman annual exams, birth control, STD prevention, testing and treatment, pregnancy testing and HPV vaccinations. Less than 2 percent of PPSO's patient visits are for early abortion care.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon is the statewide political voice for Planned Parenthood's two affiliates in Oregon and for women's health care. PPAO defends the PlannedParenthood mission by advocating for public policy that will enhance and protect women's health; by building support and accountability among our elected officials in Oregon; and by engaging and motivating the public. PPAO is not affiliated with any political party, but is instead organized to support those state and local candidates who have taken responsible positions on women's health care, including birth control and abortion.

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