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|Sarah Brown||June 30th 2014|
Today in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that closely-held corporations such as Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cannot be required to provide contraceptive coverage that they object to on religious grounds. This is a disappointing decision for women. We respect the views of people of deep faith and we also respect the proven value of contraception as part of basic women’s health care. However, by allowing a private for-profit company to impose the owners’ beliefs on its employees, the Court is limiting the ability of such employees to choose the method of contraception that they and their doctor decide is best for them. Pregnancy planning and spacing though the use of contraception has well-documented benefits. These include reducing maternal and infant mortality, improving educational attainment, reducing poverty and reducing abortion. These are goals we can all support. Almost all Americans (95% of Democrats and 91% of Republicans) agree that for those trying not to get pregnant, using birth control is taking personal responsibility. Furthermore, three-quarters of Americans (78% of Democrats and 68% of Republicans) think policymakers who are opposed to abortion should be strong supporters of birth control. Half of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned as reported by women themselves and half of all unplanned pregnancies end in abortion. Moreover, unplanned pregnancy lies behind 90% of all abortions in America. Research shows that when cost is removed as a barrier and women can choose from the full range of contraceptives, including the most effective ones, there have been dramatic declines in unplanned pregnancy and abortion. While the ruling does not affect birth control coverage for most employees, it presents a serious barrier for women working at certain closely-held corporations to plan and space their pregnancies, which benefits everyone.
Sarah Brown is CEO of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.