Supreme Court’s Birth Control Decision Redefines ‘Religious Freedom’

by TFN

Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that for-profit companies like Hobby Lobby can opt out of the requirement that employers include coverage for birth control in their employee health insurance plans. We just sent out the following press release criticizing this reckless decision.

SUPREME COURT’S BIRTH CONTROL DECISION REDEFINES RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Allowing Employers to Impose Their Religious Beliefs on Women Turns ‘Religious Freedom’ on Its Head

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2014

Today’s Supreme Court decision allowing for-profit companies like Hobby Lobby Inc. to opt out of a requirement that employers include coverage for birth control in employee health insurance plans redefines religious freedom, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said today.

“This decision turns the concept of religious freedom on its head,” Miller said. “Saying that employers may impose their religious beliefs on the deeply personal decisions their workers make fundamentally redefines religious freedom. In effect, this radical view holds a woman’s personal decisions about whether and when to have children hostage to the religious dictates of her employer.”

Miller noted that support for access to birth control, including through employer-provided health insurance plans, is strong in Texas. A February 2013 poll sponsored by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund found that 56 percent of registered voters in Texas opposed allowing employers to deny their workers health insurance coverage for birth control. The poll, conducted jointly by the national polling firms of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (Democratic firm) and Chesapeake Beach Consulting (Republican firm), is available here.

The Rev. Amelia Fulbright, campus minister for Labyrinth Progressive Student Ministry at the University of Texas at Austin, is one of more than 370 clergy from across Texas who have signed on to an open letter supporting policies that ensure access to birth control according to one’s own conscience or religious beliefs and regardless of income level. The clergy letter is available here.

“All of us must have the right to decide for ourselves, based on our own conscience and religious beliefs, whether to use birth control,” Rev. Fulbright said. “To give an employer a veto over that decision by denying insurance coverage for birth control undermines freedom rather than protects it. That would be especially dangerous here since birth control can be an essential part of women’s health care.”

Today’s Supreme Court rulings came in two cases: Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius.

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The Texas Freedom Network is an Austin-based religious liberties watchdog. The grassroots, nonpartisan organization of religious and community leaders supports religious freedom, individual liberties and public education.

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