Birth control enables women to complete their education, support themselves financially, manage certain medical conditions, and plan their families. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of women now have access to birth control at no (out-of pocket) cost. Over 40 for-profit companies have sued to make that decision FOR women—because they don’t want to cover this benefit.
And now, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether bosses have the right to deny this benefit to their employees based on their personal beliefs. They are taking up Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby & Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius. The choice to use birth control should be between a woman and her doctor, not between a woman and her employer.
Here are 7 things you need to know about birth control and this Hobby Lobby case.
- 99% of sexually active women have used birth control at some point in their life, and they’ve used birth control for a wide variety of reasons.
- 58% of pill users cite health benefits apart from contraception as a contributing factor for using birth control, according to the Guttmacher Institute. For many women, birth control is the best way to deal with a variety of health issues, like hormone replacement after chemotherapy, treating endometriosis, ovarian cysts, menstrual pain, menstrual regulation, etc.
- 27 million women have already benefited from the ACA’s preventive services provision. For these 27 million women, a ruling in favor of the corporations would be a step backward, and a return to insurance companies discriminating against women, for no reason other than their gender.
- 70% of Americans support the birth control benefit in the Affordable Care Act. They believe that health insurance companies should be required to cover the full cost of birth control, just as they do for other preventive services.
- More than 40 for-profit, privately owned companies have sued to deny women access to birth control. Our question is what do they think gives them a say? These for-profit companies range from cabinet makers to organic food suppliers! Religious institutions, like houses of worship, are exempt from the requirement to provide this new benefit to employees, but for-profit corporations are not.
Nor should they be – because women who work at for-profit businesses should be allowed to make medical decisions based on the recommendations of their doctors, without interference from their bosses
- If the bosses win, it creates a slippery slope. This isn’t just about birth control. It could eventually lead to objections to coverage of other common medical procedures like vaccines, blood transfusions and mental health treatment.
- Birth control is expensive. Co pays for birth control pills typically range from $15 to $50 a month, up to $600 per year. That’s about nine tanks of gas in a minivan, and co pays and other out-of-pocket expenses for long-term contraception, such as the IUD, have significantly higher up-front costs. A 2010 survey found that more than a third of female voters have struggled to afford prescription birth control at some point in their lives, resulting in inconsistent use.
These cases are important and we must make our voices heard. Birth control is basic, preventive health care that millions of women rely on every day. The Affordable Care Act has made access to birth control easier for a wide range of women.