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Extreme Views Against Birth Control Head to U.S. Supreme Court, In Cases with Far-Reaching Implications

“The choice about whether to use birth control should be between a woman and her doctor, and no boss should be able to interfere.” – Cecile Richards



WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it will hear claims made by two for-profit corporations that they have a right to deny their employees birth control under their health insurance plans. These are cases, Planned Parenthood said, that could deny millions of women access to affordable birth control and set a dangerous precedent allowing businesses to deny their employees a whole host of other medical procedures and treatments to which they are legally entitled, based on the employer’s personal beliefs.

Hobby Lobby, a corporation that operates a chain of arts and crafts stores, and Conestoga Wood Products, a corporation that manufactures cabinets, brought lawsuits, seeking to deny their employees insurance coverage for birth control, which is required under the Affordable Care Act’s women’s preventive benefit. More than 40 for-profit companies – most of them owned by men – have filed similar lawsuits over the last few years, advancing an extreme argument that they should be able to impose their personal beliefs about birth control, including that it is equivalent to abortion (which is simply untrue, as a medical and scientific matter). The birth control benefit of the ACA fully covers birth control like all other preventive care, meaning it is available without a co-pay. 27 million women have already benefited from this provision on new “plan years” and millions more stand to gain coverage starting on January 1. People who are getting new health insurance through Obamacare will also get the benefit once their coverage starts.

You can read a white paper providing background on the birth control benefit and what’s at stake in the Supreme Court case here: http://plannedparenthoodaction.org/files/9213/8507/0429/PPFA_WhitePaper_FINAL.pdf

Following is a statement from Cecile Richards, president, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

“The choice about whether to use birth control should be between a woman and her doctor, and no boss should be able to interfere. Birth control is basic health care for women, and it is tremendously important to women for all kinds of reasons, including to control certain medical conditions like endometriosis and to plan our families.

“The corporations that brought these cases have views that are far outside the mainstream, and the outcome of these cases could have extreme consequences for millions of Americans. For the first time ever, the court could decide that corporations have the right to opt out of a legal requirement — based entirely on the personal beliefs of their owners.

“If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the corporations, the ruling will open the door to businesses denying coverage, based on their owners’ personal beliefs, for a whole host of other medical procedures to which their employees are entitled — procedures and treatments like vaccines, surgeries, blood transfusions, or mental health care.”

Background Information

After decades of discriminatory coverage by insurance companies, the Affordable Care Act’s preventive benefit requires all insurance policies to cover birth control with no out-of-pocket cost to women — a recommendation that came from the Institute of Medicine, reflecting the fact that medical and scientific communities agree that access to birth control is common preventive medical care for American women.

Ninety-nine percent of American women between the ages of 15 and 44 who are sexually active have used birth control at some point, and nearly 60 percent of women who take the birth control pill use it for medical reasons other than contraception, such as treatment for ovarian cysts, hormone replacement after chemotherapy, endometriosis, and more.

More than 40 lawsuits have been filed by for-profit companies based on the notion that employers should be able to refuse to provide legally mandated coverage of birth control because the employer objects on religious or moral grounds. These companies range from a chain of arts and crafts stores, and a manufacturer of wood cabinets, to multiple construction companies — none of which have any expertise or medical experience in the area of women’s health.

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the corporations that filed the cases to be heard by the Court, it will assert for the first time in American history that for-profit corporations have religious rights, and that their owners have the right to refuse to provide legally mandated medical insurance based on their personal beliefs. The implications of such a ruling would impact much more than women’s access to birth control. It would create a very slippery slope, giving private, for-profit employers the right to interfere with their employees’ legal rights, such as the right to coverage of basic care, based solely on their religious views.

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Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.



Contacts

Planned Parenthood media office: 212-261-4433

Published: 11.26.13

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