Today, the Supreme Court made an important decision about women’s rights and religious freedom. Most of this has to do with a woman’s right to contraception–not just her right to an abortion. Today was a narrow victory for Hobby Lobby, along with several other companies, who were arguing that they shouldn’t have to provide insurance coverage of certain types of contraception for women.
This can all seem sort of vague and hard to pin down what it will exactly look like in action. Let me show you a concrete reality.
When I was 17 I started taking birth control. Before I started on this medication, I would get really sick during my periods. There were two times I remember it being especially bad: once when I woke up unable to feel my legs past blinding cramp pain and second when I had to leave school because I was vomiting from the pain. Since I started taking contraception, I’ve only had mild cramps that have not prevented me from going to class or participating in any of my other daily activities.
I recently switched prescriptions to find something that better suited my needs. When I went to pick up my medication I was told it was going to cost over $100. I said there must be a mistake, I’m still on my parent’s health insurance. I was then told that I would need my insurance provider’s signature to be able to pick up my birth control.
Read: I needed my dad’s boss’s signature to get necessary medication.
Luckily for me, my dad’s boss is my dad and he is fully aware that I take birth control. However, he has the “religious freedom” to prevent me, or any of his employees, their wives, or their children from obtaining reasonably priced contraception just by saying it is against his and company values. However, my father would never do that. My father understands the importance of people making personal heath choices with their physician, not their employer.
Just as a quick reminder, this scenario is not rare, nor is it even close to extreme. I’ve known many people who have had difficulty obtaining birth control or insurance coverage of these medications.
However, this is not what this fight is about. I know this fight is not about an objection to contraception, even emergency contraception. How do I know that? Hobby Lobby invests significant amounts of their 401k assets in companies that develop, not only IUDs, but medications used specifically to induce abortions.
A company that feels so strongly about not providing contraception because they see it as a form of abortion is actually investing in its development. Clearly this is not about upstanding moral values–or even Christian values.
This is about women. This is about women making decisions about their bodies, choices that will affect the rest of their lives.
I’ve seen so many arguments that women shouldn’t rely on insurance or employers for their access to birth control. This isn’t a fair expectation. In our country, healthcare is based on employment. This isn’t a good system, but it is the reality right now. Without insurance, birth control is expensive. IUDs can cost up to $1,000 according to Planned Parenthood. They also say that birth control pills can cost up to $50 a month, but I will tell you, from personal experience, that it can cost a lot more based on when your insurance decides to stop covering it.
This entire situation is confusing and it’s difficult to sort through all the information. However, the bottom line is that religious freedom does not mean freedom to take rights away from the people who work for you and it certainly doesn’t mean taking decision making power about a woman’s body away from that woman.