Jul 13, 2020
The Supreme Court, on July 8, ruled that employers with religious or “moral” objections can legally limit women’s access to birth control. As many as 126,000 women might now lose contraceptive coverage from their employers.
The court ruled on a case brought by Catholic nuns: the Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania. As one analyst pointed out, “With these religious objector cases, we are witnessing the blurring of women’s constitutional and statutory rights into the background as the interests of everyone else, including their religious bosses, are positioned as singular and urgent.”
The Affordable Care Act mandates that employers must provide coverage for birth control at no out-of-pocket cost. This latest Supreme Court ruling upends what had previously been done to accommodate bosses and their so-called “moral” outrage over having to pay for birth control.
Up until now, religiously affiliated organizations such as universities and hospitals—as well as for-profit companies—have had an “arrangement.” Their health insurer would cover the cost of birth control, so that they did not have to sully their delicate hands paying for women’s reproductive health care.
With this new decision, virtually any employer can seek an exemption based on religious—or so-called moral—objections.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, an estimated 99% of sexually active women in America between the ages of 15 and 44 have used a contraceptive method other than natural family planning at some point. So this ruling has implications for most women.
As one women’s healthcare advocate pointed out, due to COVID-19, the U.S. healthcare system is severely strained. “Now is a time when we should be removing barriers and addressing inequities that stand between people and health care... I’m appalled at these policies.”
A recent study found that only 39% of Black women between the ages of 18 and 44 could afford $10 or less if they needed birth control today. And a 2014 survey conducted by Planned Parenthood reported that 57% of young Latina women struggle with the cost of prescription birth control.
This court ruling shows one more way that a healthcare system, where coverage is tied to the employer, is crazy. The money exists in this society to provide free, quality healthcare—including reproductive healthcare—for all.
This latest attack will hit young women the hardest. The Black Lives Matter Movement has shown the best way to react when you are under attack—pour massively into the streets and make your righteous anger felt!