SCOTUS DECISION: Corporations Have Religious Liberty, Women Do Not In Choosing Birth Control

supreme court

In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court sided with Hobby Lobby, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. today in a major blow to reproductive rights for women across the nation.

Said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, which has been centrally involved in securing contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act,

Today’s decision not only deprives women of comprehensive healthcare, but it sets a terrifying standard in affirming the ‘personhood’ of corporations … giving closely-held (i.e. limited number of stockholders) corporations so-called religious liberty and taking religious freedom away from their employees at the expense of women’s health. This sets a dangerous precedent for the future of religious liberty and women’s rights. A majority of Americans agree that women should have access to affordable birth control and support full coverage of birth control as a preventive service. The Supreme Court ignored, not only public opinion, but individual rights of women to religious freedom.

Hobby Lobby, a for-profit national craft-store chain, and Conestoga Wood, a wood cabinet manufacturer, challenged the contraceptive-care benefit and sought to give religious freedom to corporations rather than give women the right to truly affordable and comprehensive health care. The Supreme Court case is the first for-profit challenge to the law to make it to the highest court.

Here’s what you should know about what access to contraception means to women, for birth control and beyond:

●      At least 14 percent of all women using a contraceptive are doing so to treat painful conditions such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, severe cramps.

●      Studies have shown that the Pill reduces the incidence of ovarian and endometrial cancers.

●      As many as 88 percent of American women who have ever had sexual intercourse have used some form of contraception.  

This decision is a blow to women who work for corporations who claim to have religious views that trump the religious views of their employees. Fortunately, the Affordable Care Act still provides for the vast majority of women to have insurance coverage for birth control without co-pays or deductibles.

Photo of marble staircase at U.S. Supreme Court by Flickr user Phil Roeder under license from Creative Commons 2.0