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The Supreme Court's ruling that companies cannot bar women from dangerous jobs to protect their unborn children was praised Wednesday as a boost to women's rights, but criticized by others as anti-business and even an extension of legalized abortion.

"(It's) a fabulous decision," said Leslie Wolfe of the Center for Women Policy Studies. "It upholds women's rights to continue working in jobs that have been called non-traditional. It means that women can be treated as people rather than just as wombs."But Mona Zeiberg, a lawyer for the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, said it would drive companies overseas, may convince others to become fully automated and could leave businesses open to lawsuits on behalf of babies born deformed due to their mother's exposure to workplace hazards.

The American Life League, an anti-abortion group, called the ruling "deplorable," and said it decrees "that a woman's paycheck - her economic role in society - is more important than her natural role as wife and mother."

Judie Brown, president of the group, said the decision "merely extends" the court's 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion, and she said it turns women into "economic robots."

The court ruled 9-to-0 Wednesday that the fetal-protection policy announced in 1982 by Johnson Controls Inc., excluding fertile women from jobs where they would be exposed to high levels of lead at its nine battery-making plants nationwide, violated Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In addition, a majority of the court ruled that such fetal-protection policies, when applied only to women, can never be legally justified under Title 7.