25 March, 18:50

Supreme Court Tackles Obamacare Contraception Controversy

By Molly Seder

WASHINGTON (VR) – Massive crowds rallied outside the Supreme Court today despite a chilly snowfall. Inside, the Justices heard two cases that pit women’s access to contraceptives against the religious rights of corporations. One woman outside the court held a sign reading: “If men could get pregnant, birth control would be from gumball machines and bacon flavored.”

The two cases, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, challenge a key part of the Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare, requiring corporations to only offer health insurance that covers a spectrum of contraception, including emergency “Plan B” pills and IUDS.

Terry O’Neill, the President of the National Organization of Women, told VR that the Affordable Care Act gives women the right to contraceptives. She says that means no employer “can claim religion as an excuse for simple bigotry against women.”

The case is generating massive attention, with #SCOTUS and #NotMyBossBusiness trending on twitter.

Those who defend the religious rights of corporation say that the Affordable Care Act doesn’t require churches to pay for women’s birth control. They insist that the government shouldn’t force corporations to provide it either.

But O’Neill argues women have a right to “privacy, to make the decision for herself whether she will utilize birth control as part of her health care. That’s her constitutional right, not her boss’ constitutional right.”

She adds there’s no constitutional right to be an employer.

It’s unclear how the Court will rule. Justice Sotomayor today asked attorney Paul Clement, “How does a corporation practice religion?” It’s a question without a clear answer.

O’Neill says the Supreme Court has an obligation to defend women’s rights.

“It is not equal protection of the law if the law is amended to wipe out part of women’s basic health care,” O’Neill said. Other stress that the ruling would be far clearer if the issue at stake were access to blood transfusions or HIV treatments.

O’Neill stresses it’s a case that impacts Americans everywhere, and says 99% of sexually active women have used birth control at some point in their lives. She says women are often financially incapable of accessing expensive medications without insurance.

“You go to any Catholic Church in the country today. Look around at the services, look at the families. They have two kids. What do we think they’re doing? They’re utilizing birth control.”

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