Women need, and deserve, unfettered access to high quality healthcare, including preventative, contraceptive and pre-natal care. This is not just a matter of constitutionality and equal rights, but also of basic morality. Women do not deserve to be penalized — medically, economically, or legally — for our womanhood. Yet, efforts to defund one of the nation’s largest healthcare providers of affordable healthcare services for women, as well as men, does just that.
In the wake of a smear campaign against Planned Parenthood — one of the nation’s largest healthcare service providers for women (as well as men and youth) — the Senate voted last night on a bill that would have prohibited federal funds from going to the organization. That bill received 53 yea votes to 46 nay votes, 7 short of the 60 needed to overcome a Democratic filibuster, effectively defeating the proposed measure.
Women’s health advocates can breathe a little bit easier after last night’s defeat of conservative efforts to dismantle a network of clinics that serve over 2.7 million patients nationwide, many of them low- or middle-income women. Although Planned Parenthood is a perpetual target of pro-life hate-mongers, the group actually provides a broad range of reproductive and general healthcare services, including sex education, contraceptive care, and pre-natal care, as well as tests and treatment for sexually-transmitted diseases. Less than 5% of the clinic’s patients arrive seeking abortion services.
Hi, Hobby Lobby. It’s me, Jenn.
I heard you won a pretty big court case today, one that established your constitutional right as a corporate conglomerate-person to infringe on my rights as an actual person-person. I heard you congratulating yourselves in what you dubbed a major blow in defense of the free practice of your religion (centered around cheaper healthcare costs?) and free expression of your political beliefs (centered around being a jerk?), both of which apparently involve limiting the reproductive rights of the women who work for (within?) you.
Well, I have the freedom of expression, too. And, I think this decision is stupid.
Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled against abortion clinic buffer zones in Massachusetts, arguing that a woman’s right to unobstructed access in seeking reproductive health services was of less weight than the right of protesters to abusively taunt and harangue her with their political opinions. In a unanimous decision, SCOTUS judges ruled that Massachusetts’ abortion clinics’ 35 foot buffer zone around abortion clinic front doors, which effectively restrict all non-clinic employees or patients from congregating and blocking access (regardless of political affiliation), is unconstitutional. This decision despite the fact that SCOTUS protects buffer zones (many larger than health clinic buffer zones) around polling places and even the Supreme Court itself.
In practice, last week’s decision established that a woman’s right to privacy and reproductive choice is less constitutionally important than the right of protesters to verbally abuse her.
Today, SCOTUS made a second heinous ruling in regards to women’s rights. SCOTUS ruled in favour of Hobby Lobby against portions of the Affordable Care Act that mandated abortion and contraceptive coverage. Hobby Lobby lawyers asserted the right of the company to — on religious grounds — refuse health insurance plans for employees that includes contraceptive and abortion care coverage, regardless of the employee’s own political or moral opinions on the subject.
Or, more specifically, to permit employers to force its stance on abortion access onto their employees.