Planned Parenthood Action Fund on Gov. Brewer Rejection of Extreme Discrimination Bill:
“This is not a fight about religious liberties.
It is about corporations who want a license to discriminate against people by denying services”
WASHINGTON – Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards today issued a statement in response to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer 's vetoing SB 1062, legislation allowing businesses to refuse services to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people based on the owner’s personal religious beliefs.
The Arizona legislation raises similar issues as the cases currently before the Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, and the Arizona bill clearly illustrated the broad implications that a ruling in favor of these corporations would have in allowing employers to make important medical decisions for their employees, or to discriminate at will against women, minorities, people with disabilities and others.
“The nation is just getting a peek at this extreme agenda designed to give corporations a license to discriminate, and they don’t like what they see. Governor Brewer was right to reject this extreme measure, and we hope the U.S. Supreme Court rejects it, too, when the justices hear a case on the same principle next month.
“What’s clear from the Arizona debate is that this is not a fight about religious liberties. It is about corporations who want a license to discriminate against people by denying services, taking away birth control coverage, and blocking access to health care. If Governor Jan Brewer can see that this is way too extreme, surely the U.S. Supreme Court can, too.”
On Thursday, February 20, 2014, the Arizona Legislature passed legislation that would have allowed business owners to cite religious freedom to deny service to individuals they disapprove of. The bill is intended to allow these businesses to deny services to same-sex couples. The measure faced wide political opposition even within the GOP, including Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, and three Republican state lawmakers who initially voted for the law. Business owners and gay rights organizations also decried the legislation.
The bill raised similar issues to two cases being addressed by the Supreme Court in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius — which examine the question of whether corporations are able to deny insurance coverage for particular medical treatments based solely on their religious beliefs.
More than 40 lawsuits have been filed by for-profit companies based on the notion that employers should be able to limit their employees’ access to birth control because the employer objects on religious or moral grounds. These companies range from an arts and crafts store to an auto parts store and multiple construction companies — none of which have any expertise or medical experience in the area of women’s health.
If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Hobby Lobby, it will assert for the first time in American history that private for-profit corporations have religious rights, and that employers have the right to interfere with medical decisions of their employees based on their personal beliefs. The implications of a favorable ruling for Hobby Lobby would impact much more than women’s access to birth control. It would create a very slippery slope, giving private, for-profit employers the right to impose their own medical preferences on their employees.