Birth control debate heads to ballot

By Matt Porter |

Published 07/07 2014 09:40PM

Updated 07/08 2014 10:29AM

ILLINOIS -- The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court for the health insurance birth control requirement is creating a ripple effect in many states including right here in Illinois. Women's health advocates are now pushing states to pass new laws that will continue to allow birth control as part of basic prescription drug coverage.

Small businessman, Mark Kessler, owns a record store in downtown Springfield. He said he believes businesses which provide health insurance to employees shouldn't be able to refuse birth control coverage.

"I think women have a right to that wherever they work," Kessler said. "I don't think the business should have the right to tell them they don't have that right."

The Supreme Court sided with Hobby Lobby's lawsuit arguing the birth control mandate violated the company's freedom of religion.

Illinois' voters will now bring their own opinions to the table after Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill putting the question about birth control coverage on November's ballot.

Julie Johnson, from Springfield, said government shouldn't be in the business of dictating company policies, and employees aren't forced to work for companies with different beliefs.

"You know from the beginning Hobby Lobby's stance on that. I know as a shopper that Hobby Lobby is closed on Sunday. I don't have a problem with that," Johnson said. "If I needed birth control pills, I would choose to find a job somewhere else."

David Blanchette, spokesperson for the governor's office, said the ballot question will determine if Illinois needs to adapt its own law now that the federal mandate has been struck down.

"This advisory referendum is a way to help the regular Illinoisans weigh in on the issue. Do they feel strongly that this is an integral part of women's health?" Blanchette said.

There is still some question if Illinois can even make a law that would work around last week's court opinion. The first step will come this November if voters demand action.

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