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Advocate: Supreme Court Hobby Lobby Decision “A Blow To Women”

PHOTO: Rabbi Bonnie Margulis, chairwoman of the Wisconsin Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, calls the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case "a blow to all women." Photo courtesy Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice.
PHOTO: Rabbi Bonnie Margulis, chairwoman of the Wisconsin Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, calls the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case "a blow to all women." Photo courtesy Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice.
July 2, 2014

MADISON, Wis. - The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, in the so-called Hobby Lobby case, that some for-profit corporations, such as Hobby Lobby, can deny coverage of birth control to their workers, based on the religious beliefs of the corporation's owners.

Rabbi Bonnie Margulis of Madison, chairwoman of the Wisconsin Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, said she was stunned by the decision.

"It's unbelievable to me that the highest court in the land is defining business entities as people," she said, "having consciences and rights of speech and of religious freedom, and letting that trump the religious freedom of women."

Margulis predicted that the ruling will force many Wisconsin women to make the kinds of choices they don't want to make, between having reliable birth control and, sometimes, feeding their families.

"Birth control that were specific to this case costs an average of $40 a month," she said, "and for low-income women who are making minimum wage or slightly more, that kind of out-of-pocket expense is very often unaffordable."

In the rabbi's view, reproductive justice includes a woman's right to follow her conscience and religious teachings about when and whether to bear children. She said this ruling runs contrary to that principle.

Hobby Lobby sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, saying it did not want to cover employees' access to morning-after pills or intrauterine devices under the Affordable Care Act, as the company's owners consider them forms of abortion.

According to Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, women who receive birth control with no co-pay or at a reduced cost are able to avoid more than 2 million unplanned pregnancies each year, which also reduces the incidence of abortion. Margulis said the ruling affects all women, not just those of low income.

"It's a blow to women; it is the Supreme Court allowing discrimination against women," she said. "It's allowing corporations to have a say in personal and private health care decisions, and it's a slippery slope."

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI