Not My Boss's Business


hobby lobby

This summer, five men decided how important it is for women to have access to birth control. Not one of these men has a uterus. They don’t understand the scary possibility of getting pregnant if they’re not physically, mentally, or fiscally prepared for it. Yet in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, these members of the Supreme Court gave loosely held for-profit businesses the right to deny employees legally mandated coverage for contraception because of their CEOs’ personal objections.

This puts women at risk for serious health complications. According to a statement released by Planned Parenthood after the decision, 99 percent of sexually active women have used birth control in their lives. Using oral contraceptives for five or more years can reduce a woman's risk of developing ovarian cancer by 50 percent—a disease that affects 1 in 71 women.

Betty DeFazio, director of Community Affairs and Public Policy at Planned Parenthood's Central and Western New York branch, says that women across the United States are appalled by the decision.

“Birth control is prevention,” DeFazio says. “It’s an economically smart investment for health care.” Every dollar spent on family planning services saves approximately four dollars on other Medicaid expenses, such as those related to pregnancy. The Affordable Care Act saved women across the country $483 million in birth control prescription costs in its first year.

DeFazio says that the Hobby Lobby verdict takes away decision-making power from the individual.The ruling instead hands this right to bosses, who should not be entitled to discriminate against their employees. Even President Barack Obama’s Twitter account threw shade at the court’s majority with “Throwback to last week when a woman—not her boss—made her own decisions about her health care. #TBT.”

The solution is simple: Members of Congress must come together and pass legislation that stands with women and their right to affordable health care. Various pieces of legislation nicknamed “Boss Bills” aim to undo the Hobby Lobby decision and require employers to share information about their insurance plans.

Without further action, the consequences from the ruling will spiral out of control—some elected officials are even working to repeal the entire birth control mandate of the ACA that currently benefits 30 million women.

Women’s health issues are too often pushed to the side, but we can’t just let that continue to happen—especially not when the force behind it consists of the kind of people who believe in things like “abortion pills.” Take a seat, Green family.

Illustration by Dylan Cownie

This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of Jerk.