First I’d like to provide some information on the recent decisions, then I will explain why I think they are harmful to all of us.
Let’s start with the Hobby Lobby decision first. The court has ruled that Hobby Lobby can deny insurance coverage for particular types of birth control based on the fact that it goes against their deeply held religious beliefs. The contraception mandate provided for in the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) had exemptions for birth control coverage for institutions or businesses whose PRIMARY purpose was the promotion of their religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby’s primary purpose is the selling of craft items.
Hobby Lobby particularly opposed IUDs and morning after pills believing that they were similar to abortions. IUDs are very effective and very popular among women. They are also very expensive. Morning after pills are necessary in circumstances where a woman may believe her regular birth control has failed or in cases of rape and/or incest when the woman may not have been protected by any kind of birth control. According to the 35-page dissent written by Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsberg, this decision was so poorly written that it leaves the door open for any employer to deny coverage of ANY type of birth control. She also says that even though this decision was only about birth control, again it’s so poorly written it leaves the door open to denial of coverage of such medical procedures as blood transfusions and mental health treatment if your employer is a Jehovah’s Witness or a Scientologist.
Now I would be more believing of Hobby Lobby’s “deeply held religious” belief concerning types of birth control if they didn’t import the majority of their products from China where millions of women are forced to have abortions every year due to China’s one child policy. I would also be more believing of their reasoning if they didn’t invest millions of their pension plan money in pharmaceutical companies that produce the very type of birth control they object to. Apparently where Hobby Lobby is concerned, having to pay for birth control violates their religious belief, but making millions of dollars by investing in that very type of birth control, and buying their products from China, is in no way a violation of their religious beliefs. As far as their beliefs go, money trumps religion every time.
Now about the “buffer zone” around clinics that provide abortions. The court ruled that one particular clinic in Boston violated the free speech of citizens because their 35 foot buffer zone included a public sidewalk. This particular clinic was built very close to the public sidewalk in a crowded urban area. I understand the reasoning that public sidewalks can’t be excluded. But because of this decision women seeking a legal medical procedure at this clinic will now be forced to push their way through a crowd of potentially violent protesters. It will also result in more clinics trying to do away with buffer zones. Protesters were always able to voice their opinions outside the buffer zone and still be heard. They claim they want to engage in “gentle conversations about other options”. If that were true, why have there been 6800 incidents of violence, 2500 incidents of trespassing, 42 bombings, 17 attempted murders and 8 murders at clinics in the last 15 years? This is not a free speech issue, but it is very much a safety issue. By the way, the Supreme Court has a 185 foot buffer zone around their building.
Now about how this effects us all:
*Since the advent of the pill, women have been able to continue/finish higher education at a much higher rate than before.
*Having a higher education means that women can provide better financial support for their families.
*Women who can better help provide for their families results in fewer families needing public assistance (food stamps, housing aid, health care) which is provided through our tax dollars, thereby saving all of us money.
*Women who space when they have children and how many they have are healthier and their children are healthier than women who have too many children in too short a time period.
*Having more children than a woman can care for or afford will result in more children going hungry, which in turn will result in poorer education for those children, because study after study shows that kids can’t learn when they are hunger. So we will have more poorly educated people in our future work force.
*Not being able to afford birth control will most certainly result in many unplanned pregnancies. Those women will have to drop out of the work force for a period of time, which will financially harm their families and our economy. When and if they return to the work force will depend on how much they can afford to spend for child care.
Hopefully, men will realize how this effects them, too. Since it’s primarily women who are responsible for birth control (although I would certainly like to see this change), men will now be fathers sooner and perhaps more often than they would like.
Yes, I realize the court decision on birth control doesn’t mean that women can’t go out and get that birth control. But affordability equals access. Birth control can be very expensive. An IUD can cost up to $2000. The pill can cost $50 – $75 a month. If you are a minimum wage worker, that is a significant amount of money. And as we know, women are paid considerably less than men in the workplace to begin with.
Access to safe and legal abortions is being greatly reduced in many states. Now the affordability of the most effective types of birth control is being reduced for thousands and potentially hundreds of thousands of women. It seems to me that everyone should wish for fewer abortions to be performed in this country. Affordability of birth control can help accomplish that. But when you can’t afford birth control or when your birth control fails, ending a pregnancy safely for women who desire to, should always be an option. It’s 2014, but women’s rights are more along the lines of 1950.
I get the “religious beliefs” idea. I really do. But when your religious beliefs infringe on other peoples lives in this most personal and private way, something has to give. The ability to access birth control and a safe termination of a pregnancy will benefit women, men, children and all families. This is the greater good. And when your religious beliefs interfere with the greater good….well, you know where I stand.