WASHINGTON – Displaying a shocking disregard for women’s health and lives, the Supreme Court ruled today in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby that corporations may, in the name of religious “beliefs,” strip contraception from their employer-based health plans.
Unintended pregnancy is deadly. It is closely correlated with infant mortality, maternal mortality and increased risk of domestic violence homicide. The U.S. has the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the developed world — a higher rate than in many developing countries. Each year in the U.S., more than half of all pregnancies are unintended.
The Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate holds the promise of saving women’s and infants’ lives by reducing the incidence of unintended pregnancy. Yet the Supreme Court wants to gut that life-saving mandate.
Even if corporate bosses seriously believe birth control goes against their religion, there are some “beliefs,” no matter how sincerely held, that should simply not be respected by any government. A “belief” that works to the detriment of a specific demographic group that has historically experienced discrimination is no more than a religious mask for bigotry. The world has rejected the use of religion to justify racial and homophobic bigotry, and the same must be true for gender bigotry as well.
Extending the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion to corporations is appalling. (What’s next — a seat in Congress?) But history will judge the Roberts’ Court most harshly for so willingly doing the Catholic Bishops’ dirty work for them. With 98% of sexually active Catholic women using contraception at some point, the bishops have turned to the U.S. government to accomplish what they could not do legitimately from their pulpits. NOW is already mobilizing our grassroots activists across the country to ensure that this decision will not stand.
Every woman has the right to make her own reproductive health decisions. Not her boss, not some bishop, not some politician — and certainly not some Supreme Court Justice.