Supreme Court Takes Up Troubling Contraceptive LawsuitsNovember 26, 2013
You may like and respect your boss, but would you want him or her to have control over your medical care? Do you want to think about your boss every time you open your medicine cabinet or take a prescription?
Of course not. But now it could happen.
The Supreme Court decided today that it would hear challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement. Under the ACA, certain preventive health care services are covered without co-pay or cost sharing. Contraception is covered, as are immunizations, annual physicals, and certain screenings. Houses of worship are exempt from the requirement to provide contraceptive coverage for their employees, and religiously-affiliated nonprofits (such as Catholic Charities USA) have the option to use a third-party insurer to provide this coverage. Women are almost universally covered, and religious rights are respected.
AAUW strongly supports this coverage requirement, as it benefits millions of women. However, more than 40 for-profit companies (businesses whose goal is making money) have sued for the right to deny their employees access to contraceptive coverage. This effort is led by Hobby Lobby, a for-profit arts-and-crafts chain, which wants to deny its employees this benefit. These companies want the right to stand between women and their doctors. AAUW has signed on to several amicus briefs opposing these lawsuits and supporting women’s right to accessible contraceptive health care. For-profit companies should not have the right to restrict medical coverage.
The Supreme Court‘s decision today to hear Hobby Lobby’s challenge to this coverage is dangerous to women and to everyone.
If the Supreme Court rules in Hobby Lobby’s favor, it could mean a slippery slope for women (and anyone) seeking medical care. In the not-so-distant future, your boss could deny you more than just your vacation request. She could deny you contraception and make medical decisions that should stay between you and your doctor. In the name of corporate religious liberty, your boss could deny coverage of vaccines, surgeries, blood transfusions, or mental health care. Depending on how the court rules, corporate religious liberty could be applied other ways, such as refusing to non-compliance with certain employment discrimination laws or denying health coverage to same-sex couples.
Virtually all American women use birth control at some point in their lives. It helps women pursue careers, complete their education, manage their health, and plan their families. Employees who control their own health benefit employers. Your boss shouldn’t be able to deny you the benefit of contraception based on his or her personal beliefs.
People need to know what’s at stake here — bosses belong in the conference room, not the exam room. Take action and write a letter to your local paper about this case and the impact it could have on women and everyone else.