By Maggie Leigh Groff
BCWAC Partner, Planned Parenthood Keystone
I feel like we are going back in time . . . it’s 2014, and yet we’re fighting for access to birth control! The U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case effectively designated women as second-class citizens, by putting our health care needs secondary to the personal beliefs of corporate CEOs. In a devastating ruling, the Court gave CEOs of many closely held profit-making corporations the right to deny their employees coverage for birth control because of the CEO’s personal objections – even though that coverage is legally mandated and even if those objections are not supported by science of medicine.
It’s unbelievable that in 2014, we’re still fighting about whether women should have access to birth control! 99% of American women will use birth control at some point in their lives and it is an integral and important part of basic women’s health care. As women across Pennsylvania know all too well, this important preventive care isn’t inexpensive. A 2010 survey found that more than a third of all women have struggled to afford prescription birth control.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, women are granted access to this important preventive care through their insurance plans at no additional out-of-pocket cost. Just in this first year, the birth control benefit saved women, across the country, more than $483 million in prescription costs – and those savings will grow in the years ahead.
As a result of this decision- issued by five male Supreme Court justices (all three women justices dissented) – that coverage is jeopardized for women who are employed by specific corporations, including large for-profit companies employing thousands of women and more than half of the workforce in this country. It is unfair and unpopular to give bosses the right to discriminate and deny their employees access to basic preventive care. Birth control simply isn’t a controversial issue for the majority of Americans.
Some members of Congress are working to pass legislation that will stop for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby from discriminating against their employees. Although the legislation did not move forward this week, it has widespread public support and will come up for a vote again, according to Majority Leader, Harry Reid. We commend Pennsylvania’s Senator Casey for his support of the “Not My Boss’s Business” bill. American women deserve the same rights and protections as everyone else, and we ask Congressman Fitzpatrick to support this bill and fight back against the inequality created by the Hobby Lobby decision.