Legislation that could undo the effects of the controversial Hobby Lobby Supreme Court ruling is stalled in Congress. The “Not my Boss’s Business Act” would force employers who don’t offer health insurance that includes contraceptive coverage to start carrying it even though the Supreme Court said they don’t have to. Tampa area Congress member Kathy Castor spoke out against what she sees as a blatant attack on women during a rally in downtown Tampa Monday.
“We’re going to have a little discussion about the importance of women’s healthcare and women, their doctors and their families making their family planning decisions rather than a few older white men.”
The Supreme Court ruling last month was decided by five Justices – all of them men.
“They said that for-profit corporations in America have religious rights. What? This is the first time that the Supreme Court of the United States has said a for-profit, private corporation actually has religious freedom. Now, I was in church yesterday and I didn’t see any for-profit corporations in the pews. I have not been invited to a baptism for a for-profit corporation.”
The craft retail chain Hobby Lobby and another company called Conestoga Wood argued that because they have a religious objection to birth control and other contraceptives they liken to abortion, they shouldn’t have to include coverage for those items in employer-sponsored healthcare they pay for. Since the ruling, women’s groups around the country have been rallying support for a Congressional answer to the landmark decision. About a dozen women rallied at Gas Light Square Monday. Some of them wore shirts that read,
“I can’t believe we’re still protesting this stuff. Only they don’t say stuff.”
That’s Becky Killik, regional field organizer for Planned Parenthood.
“Pretty much, that’s how it feels. I can’t believe in 2014 we’re still fighting about something so basic as birth control.”
A provision in the Affordable Care Act requires health insurance policies to include contraceptive coverage including things like the pill, intra-uterine devices and even the morning after pill known as Plan B. Congress member Castor argues that requirement helps women better plan beginning a family for when they are more financially able. But she says that’s not the only way it saves.
“And this has saved women across America $480 million. I know many of you went to the drug store to pick up your birth control and were surprised. Wait a minute. Where’s the charge here? There wasn’t a charge because it’s now been built in to your basic policy.”
She also worries about the precedent set by allowing corporations to use religious objections as a way to side-skirt laws.
“What if a for-profit corporation determines, well, I don’t believe in vaccinating children? That affects all of us. What if they determined that, I don’t believe that a health insurance policy should cover an HIV treatment? See the slippery slope that we go down.”
The Supreme Court ruling has been hailed as a victory by many in the religious community and among conservatives. But not all faith leaders back the move. Reverend Bernice Powell-Jackson is with the First United Church of Tampa.
“The majority of people of faith in this nation actually agree that women should have the right to make their own choices. It’s really got to be a conversation between a woman, her partner, her doctor and her God and the rest of us have got to get out that conversation and allow women to have the freedom to make their own decisions about their own reproductive health care.”
The “Not my Boss’s Business Act” failed a vote in the Senate last week, but Senate President Harry Reid says there will be another vote by year’s end. Congress member Castor says it’s unlikely the measure will be heard in the Republican-controlled House.