"Ultimately, decisions about birth control must be left to a woman, with the counsel of her health care provider. There should be no interference from politicians or business owners."– Judy Tabar, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England
The U.S. Supreme Court announced yesterday 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 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.
"Ultimately, decisions about birth control must be left to a woman, with the counsel of her health care provider. There should be no interference from politicians or business owners," said Judy Tabar President & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. "Birth control is basic health care for women and it is tremendously important to women for a variety of reasons, including to control medical conditions and to plan our families."
Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Products brought lawsuits, seeking to deny their employees insurance coverage for birth control, which is a required women’s preventive benefit under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). More than 40 for-profit companies – most of them owned by men and none of which have any expertise or medical experience in the area of women’s health – 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.
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. 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.
"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," Tabar stated. "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 other medical procedures to which their employees are entitled."
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 allow 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.
The birth control benefit of the ACA fully covers birth control like all other preventive care, meaning it is available without a co-pay. Twenty seven 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.
Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (PPSNE) is one of the region’s largest providers of family planning and reproductive health care services. Since 1923, PPSNE has evolved into an organization with 18 health centers in Connecticut and Rhode Island, delivering care to over 70,000 patients annually, and 90 percent of the services provided are preventive.