Legal groups which advocate for LGBT rights have criticized a Supreme Court ruling declaring that some for-profit companies may block their employees' access to certain birth control methods.

Several companies challenged the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) requirement that insurance health plans include coverage for FDA-approved contraception. The companies equated such methods with abortion and asserted that the First Amendment protects their religious freedom.

In a split 5-4 decision, the justices struck a blow to President Barack Obama's health care law.

Analysts noted that the ruling was not as sweeping as it could have been. It applies only to closely-held corporations and is based on a law approved by Congress, not a constitutional right to exercise religion.

Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito ruled that the religious protections found in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 apply to for-profit corporations.

“A corporation is simply a form of organization used by human beings to achieve desired ends” Alito said. “Protecting the free-exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby, Conestoga and Mardel protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those companies.”

Jennifer C. Pizer, senior legal counsel and director at Lambda Legal's Law and Policy Project, called the ruling “radically dangerous.”

The ruling “invites more misguided actions contrary to essential protections for employees, customers and the public,” she said in a statement. “It is imperative that the U.S. Congress amend the federal Religious Restoration Act to withdraw the blessing the Court mistakenly has given these companies to impose their beliefs on working women.”

“[R]ecent mistreatment of LGBT people in employment and other commercial settings still makes this extremely troubling. A business owner's religious objection to a worker's same-sex spouse or a customer's LGBT identity is not acceptable grounds for discrimination. It is more important than ever that states and Congress enact strong, clear nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people,” she added.

Gary Busek, interim executive director at GLAD, said that while the court's decision “makes clear that there is no opening for demands to be exempt from non-discrimination laws, we are very aware of the need to be vigilant.”

“Attempts to discriminate against LGBT people are increasingly being articulated as religious expression,” he added.

Shannon Minter, legal director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), echoed the sentiment.

“Thankfully … the majority recognized that even under its sweeping new rule, corporations cannot rely on claims of religious liberty to evade non-discrimination laws,” Minter said. “That limitation is extremely important and means that employers cannot exploit today's decision to justify non-compliance with laws that prohibit discrimination against LGBT people and other vulnerable groups, but we will need to be vigilant to make sure that principle is respected and enforced.”