The U.S. Supreme Court should find that the owners of secular, for-profit corporations have no right to impose their religious views onto employees by denying them access to contraceptives, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says.
Americans United urges this action in response to today’s announcement that the Supreme Court will consider the cases of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius. The cases challenge the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, which requires most businesses to provide their employees with health insurance that includes access to no-cost birth control.
“The Supreme Court needs to make it clear that religious freedom is not a battering ram to use against individual rights,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United.
Added Lynn, “The question before the court is simple: Does the owner of a secular corporation have the right to impose his religious views onto his employees? And the answer is equally simple: No.”
To hear activists on the Christian right tell the story, the conservative Christian American—especially the male conservative Christian American—is the most oppressed, victimized person in the country, and perhaps the history of the world. It’s all utterly disingenuous, of course: painting themselves as victims creates a cover to actually victimize other people, usually by imposing their fanatical religious views. Here’s a rundown of various ways Christian conservatives paint themselves as victims, and who the real victims actually are.
1) The issue: Whether or not states should ban “gay conversion therapy” for minors who cannot, by definition, give their consent.
Who the right claims is being hurt: Christian parents whose supposed “freedom of religion” requires that they be allowed to try to force their kids to be straight. Matt Stave of the Liberty Counsel denounced banning this practice, calling it a “slippery slope of government infringing upon the First Amendment rights of counselors to provide, and patients to receive, counseling consistent with their religious beliefs.”
Who is actually being hurt: LGBT youth, whose actual rights to be themselves are being threatened by parents whose poor parenting decisions are tantamount to child abuse. Gay conversion “therapy” isn’t therapy in any real sense; actual therapy is about helping people become whole and well, which can only be achieved by gay and queer people by learning to accept their sexuality for what it is. These programs don’t actually convert anyone, something that even prominent “ex-gay” organizations finally had to admit. At best, they shove young people into the closet. The American Psychologial Association came out against gay conversion in 2009, and cited its use as a contributing factor to depression and even suicide.
But even if therapists did “convert” young people from gay to straight, that would not justify these programs. Religious freedom is something an individual possesses; if a young person decides to reject her parents’ religious teachings on sexuality, that is her right. Gay conversion non-therapy is not just an assault on young people’s right to wholeness, it’s an assault on their right to determine for themselves what religious beliefs to hold.
2) The issue: The new HHS regulations requiring insurance plans to cover, without a copay, an assorted list of preventive care, including contraception.
3) The issue: Businesses and the government taking an inclusive or even secular approach to the holidays. The right objects to a wide range of inclusive or secular behaviors, from governments sticking to secular expressions of the holidays season (Santa and Christmas trees instead of nativity scenes) and businesses that stick with greetings like “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”
4) The issue: Schools leading students in prayer, whether it’s the teachers or the students offering the officially sanctioned prayer. The Supreme Court bans it all.
5) The issue: Gay marriage.
An new undercover investigation into Virginia’s right-wing “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) exposes the blatant misinformation about women’s health, as well as the shame-based messages surrounding sexuality, that their employees typically impart to patients. NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia — which has been working for years to expose the dozens of CPCs in the state — caught the lies on tape and released their findings on Wednesday.
NARAL recorded a counseling session between a young woman and a CPC employee. The woman received false information about the risks of hormonal birth control, misleading explanations about how contraception works, and judgmental messages about her decision to be sexually active before getting married. During the conversation, the CPC counselor repeatedly suggested that her organization was more trustworthy than the staff at abortion clinics, since abortion providers are ultimately trying to convince their patients to spend money at the clinic. “I’m not lying to you, sweetie — why would I lie to you? I’m not asking you to give me anything here,” she said. “We’re a pregnancy health and education center.”
For several minutes, a CPC employee told horror stories about the dangers of being on birth control, saying she typically tries to talk women out of using it. She likened birth control to “tremendous dosages of steroids,” and belittled her patient for opting to flood her body with artificial hormones. “You really want that stuff inside of you? You have a brain, think and choose here,” she said. “Any of that stuff is just not good for you.”
According to the CPC counselor, birth control is dangerous because taking it for four years before becoming pregnant can increase women’s chance of getting breast cancer by 48 percent. She repeatedly referred to the “carcinogens” in contraception. She also cautioned her client to “read the fine print,” warning that even if she would never choose to have an abortion, she could accidentally end up aborting a fetus while using hormonal contraception. “If you’re on the pill, on the patch, on the shot, and get pregnant… Unintentionally, you will abort that baby because the uterus cannot sustain that pregnancy because the lining has been so altered by those steroids, the artificial hormones,” she claimed.
The CPC employee falsely asserted that condoms and birth control pills are about equally effective at preventing pregnancy, and claimed that using condoms doesn’t actually prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections. “They’re naturally porous — there’s always a chance of them breaking, a chance of spillage,” she said. “The only safe sex is no sex.”
A study published last fall in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology shows that providing free birth control to women and teenaged girls does, in fact, have a dramatic impact on the rate of unintended pregnancy, which, in turn, impacts the abortion rate. The study, which included more than 9,000 women and teenagers in the St. Louis area, and found that providing free birth control, including IUDs and hormonal implants, reduced the abortion rate by 62% to 78%.
The implications of such results fly in the face of the idea that, to reduce the abortion rate, abortions must be heavily restricted or even outlawed, and that contraception should remain out of reach for many. The GOP has been working on ways to erode, and ultimately overturn, Roe v. Wade for some time, with things such as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would severely restrict women’s access to abortions after 20 weeks. Some have even argued that the case of Kermit Gosnell is proof that abortion doctors should be under very heavy certification requirements, with admitting privileges at local hospitals, and that abortions need to be further restricted to protect women.
Furthermore, there are all sorts of myths floating around about birth control that make the religious right want to restrict its access as well. Oklahoma tried passing a law making it so that no employer was required to adhere to the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act. That decision was based on the opinion of a cardiologist, Dr. Dominic Pedulla, who said that birth control suppresses a woman’s natural tendency toward motherhood. He said that, with contraception, women are being asked to “radically contradict” their own identity, and to poison their own bodies.
Interesting word choice there; women are not being asked to do anything with birth control, even with the mandate. The mandate simply requires insurance to cover it, not that women take it.
A right-wing talk show host also mentioned horrific side effects of the pill, namely, that taking it results in thousands of tiny dead fetuses littering a woman’s uterus.
Read more at AddictingInfo: addictinginfo.org
A federal judge in New York City has ordered the Food and Drug Administration to permit the “morning-after” pill to be sold over-the-counter with no age restrictions. Previously, girls under the age of 17 had to obtain a prescription to buy the contraceptive.
According to Reuters,
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman said the FDA’s rejection of requests to remove age restrictions to obtain the pill was “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.”
The pill in question is Plan B, manufactured by Teva Pharmaceuticals Ltd. It’s been on the market since 1999, and Teva had petitioned the FDA to permit it to be sold OTC. The FDA agreed in 2011, but Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the agency’s decision.
Judge Korman has now overruled Sebelius.
Rightwing prudes are sure to go ballistic. (see below)
This report extensively quotes the judge’s ruling. courthousenews.com
Glenn Beck’s The Blaze has already attracted some predictably nasty comments. For example,
Posted on April 5, 2013 at 10:41am
And it will be Nazi Law that says all religious based insurance will have to cover it. So Decrees Obamacare Seig Heil
Posted on April 5, 2013 at 10:41am
What about abstaining from sex, I know its old fashioned , but it could work. Duct tape does too.
Posted on April 5, 2013 at 10:38am
Man: I don’t want this kid. You should have an abortion.
Woman: Well I’m having this baby and you have to pay.
Man: How would you like some scrambled eggs and coffee, dear? That’s right, eat it all up. What do you mean it tastes funny? What? Now you’re having cramps?
Researchers estimated the contraceptive use and unmet contraceptive need among married or cohabiting women of reproductive age for 194 countries between 1990 and 2010. The researchers defined an unmet need as the proportion of women who would like to delay or stop childbearing but who are not using any method of contraception to prevent pregnancy.
Global use of contraceptives by these women increased from 55 percent to 63 percent over the period from 1990 to 2010, while unmet need decreased from 15 percent to 12 percent, the results showed. Despite this, the researchers project that 233 million women will have an unmet need for modern birth control by 2015.
“The changes over time that we see — in terms of increases in contraceptive prevalence and reductions in need — are in the right direction,” study leader Ann Biddlecom, a fertility and family planning researcher in the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs, told LiveScience. “But there are still parts of the world where there remains a high level of unmet need for family planning.”
The latest assault on Planned Parenthood was launched Tuesday with a committee hearing a proposal to ban the organization from teaching or supplying materials about sex education to schools.
Dozens of people showed up to support a bill by Sen. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, whose bill also would mandate schools notify parents when any outsider presents information regarding human sexuality.
Paxton said he is concerned that Planned Parenthood will attempt to promote a pro-abortion agenda to students.
Many of the speakers also said they distrusted Planned Parenthood and that they supported a strict abstinence-only curriculum. Teaching about contraception sends a mixed message to teenagers that premarital sex is acceptable, some of the parents testified.
The bill was left pending, but Education Committee chairman Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said he liked the bill enough to become a co-author.
Current state law provides any sex education instruction in public schools must primarily stress abstinence. Parents must be notified about sex instructions offered by schools and and can keep their children out of that class if they chose.
MY PSA for this week
Published on Dec 20, 2012
Share your voice at no-controversy.com.
There is no controversy in empowering women to decide if and when to have a child.
Today, more than 200 million women and girls in developing countries who don’t want to get pregnant lack access to contraceptives.
Lost amid the shock and horror of Friday’s news was a remarkable op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who should no longer be called a “rising star” of the GOP. He commands attention by virtue of being smart, good at his job, and not a white guy. So it’s significant that he chose to use his platform to break ranks with many social conservatives in his party by calling for over-the-counter sales of birth control pills.
Of course, Jindal did so by couching his argument in a hyper-partisan defensive posture, lashing out at “Democrats [who] demagogue the contraceptives issue and pretend, during debates about health-care insurance, that Republicans are somehow against birth control.” Jindal recognizes that the vast majority of Americans support the use of contraception, and that the issue of access to contraception is a loser for Republicans. So he proposes to take the issue of birth control out of the political arena by endorsing a proposal from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) to allow adult women to purchase birth control pills over the counter. Women currently need a prescription to get birth control pills from a pharmacy.
In the op-ed, Jindal praised the ACOG proposal as “a common-sense call for reform that could yield a result everyone can embrace: the end of birth-control politics.” Republicans haven’t traditionally been terribly supportive of ACOG, an organization many conservatives believe is too sympathetic to abortion-rights supporters. In her confirmation hearings, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan was questioned sharply by Republicans about her close work with ACOG during her time in the Clinton White House. And religious conservatives complained when they thought ACOG was insufficiently supportive of conscience protections for doctors who refuse to perform abortions.
Jindal is among the new class of “realpolitik republicans” - he sees the handwriting on the wall and so tries to triangulate on this issue. If you look close you see that it’s really a no lose for the GOP.
It still allows him to give full bore support to social conservative creationism legislation and anti-abortion legislation while taking the Religious Freedom vs Women’s Rights question that crushed Romney’s chances completely off the table. This is because if birth control does go OTC then insurance won’t cover it and Jindal recognizes that the war on women is losing the GOP votes.
A likely GOP presidential hopeful in 2016, Bobby Jindal has decided to lay some groundwork with a “buck-the-party” marker. The Louisiana governor took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to advocate for over-the-counter birth control.
Though he takes pains to call himself an “unapologetic pro-life Republican,” Jindal says directly that he believes anyone over 18 should be able to buy contraceptives without a prescription.
His advocacy comes after the leading group of OB/GYNs called for over-the-counter birth-control sales last month.
Still, Jindal’s call for “the end of birth-control politics” goes only so far. He makes sure to criticize President Obama’s health care law, writing that “anyone who has a religious objection to contraception should not be forced by government health-care edicts to purchase it for others”—a nod to social conservatives in the Republican base.