Reproductive Rights Prof Blog

Editor: Caitlin E. Borgmann
CUNY School of Law

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Catholic Sistas" Explain Why They Don't Use Contraception

Salon:  Women who don’t use birth control explain why not, slut-shame those who do, by Jenny Kutner:

Hint: It's because they don't understand how birth control works

In the aftermath of the Hobby Lobby ruling that will effectively allow corporations to prevent their female employees from accessing certain forms of contraception, BuzzFeed posted explanations from 22 of its own female employees about why they use birth control. The responses ranged from medical — “for my endometriosis” — to ethical — “because it’s none of your business” — to practical — “because condoms break sometimes.” All were different, but each reflected some of the most common reasons that more than 99 percent of sexually active adult women use some form of contraception.

Well, the <1 percent of women who don’t use birth control took it upon themselves to respond to BuzzFeed by explaining their own reproductive choices, listing the reasons theydon’t use birth control on the faith-centered blog Catholic Sistas (not a spelling error). But instead of simply offering up their “logical” (read: totally putative) justifications, the women also illustrated a general lack of understanding of how birth control works, as well as what it means not to try to “force others to follow what we believe” by sending preachy messages about the virtue of sexing to make babies. . . .

July 23, 2014 in Contraception, Culture, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Eden Foods Implores Grocers Not To Boycott Its Products Over Its Contraception Objection

Forbes: Eden Foods To Grocers: Stick With Us Despite Birth Control 'Attack', by Claire O'Connor:

In the weeks since Eden Foods first hit headlines in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, the natural foods company has faced unprecedented scrutiny.

Like craft chain Hobby Lobby, Eden Foods sued the Department of Health and Human Services in a bid to reverse what its devoutly Catholic founder calls “unconstitutional government overreach.”

Michael Potter, who started the Michigan-based former co-op in the 1960s, doesn’t believe he should have to cover certain types of birth control as part of his company’s health insurance plan as required by the Affordable Care Act.

In recent days a handful of regional grocery co-ops have threatened to boycott, with activists advising those concerned about women’s health to return the company’s products to Whole Foods and its ilk. . . .

July 23, 2014 in Contraception, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Obama Administration To Revise Accommodation for Certain Religious Non-Profits That Object to Contraception Rule

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Administration to Revise Part of Contraception Rule, by Louise Radnofsky:

Wheaton College Objected to Allowing Contraceptive Coverage to Be Provided by an Insurance Company

The Obama administration said Tuesday it will revise a compromise arrangement for religiously affiliated universities and charities that object to providing contraception in workers' health insurance plans, in response to a Supreme Court order earlier this month.

A majority of Supreme Court justices granted Wheaton College, an Illinois Christian school, a temporary reprieve from contraception coverage requirements in the Affordable Care Act on July 3. That was days after the high court ruled that closely held for-profit companies such as arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby should be allowed to opt out of the provision if their owners have religious objections to certain forms of birth control. . . .

July 22, 2014 in Contraception, In the Courts, President/Executive Branch, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Republicans Block Senate Bill Aimed at Countering Effects of Hobby Lobby Decision

The Hill: Dem birth control bill stalls, by Ramsey Cox:

Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked legislation that would require companies to provide birth control coverage in their employee healthcare plans.

The bill failed to advance in a 56-43 vote, with Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine) and Mark Kirk (Ill.) voting with Democrats. . . .

July 16, 2014 in Congress, Contraception, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on Hobby Lobby Decision

Monday, July 14, 2014

Lyle Denniston on Proposed Legislation To Undo Hobby Lobby

SCOTUS blog: A Bill to Undo Hobby Lobby, by Lyle Denniston:

With fewer than a dozen crucial words, a group of U.S. senators and representatives this week proposed what they have called a “legislative fix” to undo the Supreme Court’s June 30 decision inBurwell v. Hobby Lobby.  Here is the key language in the Senate version, bill number S. 2578:  ”Application: Subsection (a) shall apply notwithstanding any other provision of federal law, including Public Law 103-141.”. . . 

The bill would modify — but without directly amending — the federal law that was the basis of the Supreme Court’s ruling — that is, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (officially enacted as Public Law 103-141).  The new measure would have the effect of simply overruling the Hobby Lobby decision.  Identical versions were introduced in the Senate and House on Wednesday. . . .

July 14, 2014 in Congress, Contraception, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 4, 2014

Court Issues Order on Contraception Mandate that Reinforces Female Justices' Concerns About Hobby Lobby Ruling's Scope

The New York Times:  Birth Control Order Deepens Divide Among Justices, by Adam Liptak:

In a decision that drew an unusually fierce dissent from the three female justices, the Supreme Court sided Thursday with religiously affiliated nonprofit groups in a clash between religious freedom and women’s rights.

The decision temporarily exempts a Christian college from part of the regulations that provide contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act. . . .

___________________________________

The reason this order  is so frustrating is that Justice Alito's opinion in Hobby Lobby emphasized that its ruling was justified in large measure because the accommodation already provided to certain non-profits could simply be extended to closely held for-profits.  In relying on the existing accommodation, the Court implied that the accommodation was constitutionally acceptable.  Indeed, the Court dismissed Justice Ginsburg's concerns about the opinion's scope, referring to the existing accommodation for non-profits and saying, "[O]ur holding is very specific."  Justice Kennedy in concurrence even felt obliged to issue a separate reassurance: "[I]t should be said that the Court’s opinion does not have the breadth and sweep ascribed to it by the respectful and powerful dissent."  Justice Kennedy pointed out that "there is an existing, recognized, workable, and already-implemented framework to provide coverage" and "[t]hat accommodation equally furthers the Government’s interest but does not impinge on the plaintiffs’ religious beliefs" (emphasis added).  The majority itself assured that the goverment's accommodation "does not impinge on the plaintiffs’ religious belief that providing insurance coverage for the contraceptives at issue here violates their religion."

There was a clue, however, in the majority's opinion, that left Justice Ginsburg and others concerned as to whether the Court was sincere in suggesting it would ultimately find the existing accommodation adequate.  The Court noted, "We do not decide today whether an approach of this type complies with RFRA for purposes of all religious claims," referring to Little Sisters of the Poor, a case in which the Court  issued a previous order addressing the accommodation as applied to a non-profit entity.  This caveat, buried in an opinion full of reassurances about the decision's narrow scope, coupled with today's order supports Justice Ginsburg's concern that the true implications of Hobby Lobby are broad and as yet unclear.

-CEB

July 4, 2014 in Contraception, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Hobby Lobby Majority, in Contrast to Justice Ginsburg, Largely Ignores Women and Their Well-Being

The Washington Post - WonkBlog: The 49-page Supreme Court Hobby Lobby ruling mentioned women just 13 times, by Emily Badger:

. . . Th[e] idea — that women's reproductive well-being is vital to both their personal prospects and the country's fortunes — runs throughout Ginsburg's dissent. It is notably absent from Justice Samuel Alito's majority opinion. . . .

 

June 30, 2014 in Contraception, Supreme Court, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Q&A on Hobby Lobby

Here is the link to UltraViolet's Twitter Q&A  on Hobby Lobby, which I participated in this morning.

The effects of Hobby Lobby decision are already being felt in the non-profit context, with the 11th Circuit enjoining the government, pending appeal, from enforcing the contraception rule against Eternal Word Television Network, a tax-exempt non-profit organization, "[i]n light of the Supreme Court's decision today" in Hobby Lobby.  Also, via Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog:  "Over the dissents of two Justices, the Supreme Court on Monday evening temporarily barred enforcement of the birth-control mandate against Wheaton College, a non-profit religious institution in Illinois."

June 30, 2014 in Contraception, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Hobby Lobby

Justice Alito wrote the opinion. There are qualifications to the Court's ruling. It appears to be limited to closely held corporations and to contraception, for example. SCOTUSblog is live blogging the decision here. The opinion is available here.  I will be participating in a Twitter chat hosted by UltraViolet to answer questions about the opinion.

June 30, 2014 in Contraception, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Gail Collins on Embryonic Personhood

The New York Times - opinion column: The Eggs and Us, by Gail Collins:

The Abortion Wars Rage On

Let’s talk personhood, people.

Personhood is an anti-abortion movement that holds that life begins at conception, giving fertilized eggs all the rights of a human being. It might make it impossible to kidnap them for in-vitro fertilization. It could outlaw some forms of contraception.

Senator Rand Paul claims every fertilized egg is protected by the 14th Amendment. Many current Senate candidates are personhood supporters, including Cory Gardner, who is running a very close race in Colorado against Mark Udall.

No! Wait! Wait! Cory Gardner just changed his mind. Obviously, this is going to take a little unraveling. Give me a minute. . . .

June 28, 2014 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Contraception, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Supreme Court Will Decide Hobby Lobby, but the Public Favors the Contraception Rule

The Washington Post: Awaiting Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, public favors contraception mandate, by Cathy Lynn Grossman:

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to finally issue its ruling this week in the highly anticipated case of the craft companies vs. Obamacare. . . .

But to the general public, this is seen as a showdown between employers — the evangelical Green family behind Hobby Lobby and the Mennonite Hahn family that owns the Conestoga cabinet company — and the employees’ personal reproductive choices under their insurance. . . .

June 24, 2014 in Contraception, Public Opinion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Wall Street Journal Perpetuates Myth that ACA Contraception Mandate Covers Abortions

Media Matters:  For The Wall Street Journal, It's About Abortion Even When It Isn't, by Meagan Hatcher Mays:

The Wall Street Journal is celebrating a recent Supreme Court ruling that will allow an anti-choice activist group to challenge the constitutionality of an Ohio law that bans false statements in election campaigns, a state statute that is opposed by free speech advocates across the political spectrum. But the WSJ went on to erroneously argue that the false statement at issue in the case -- that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) funds abortions -- is actually true, because contraceptives are actually "abortifacients." . . .

June 17, 2014 in Abortion, Contraception, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NPR Answers Questions About the Federal Contraception Rule

NPR: 6 Questions About Contraception Coverage And The Supreme Court, by Julie Rovner:

One of the most watched issues before the Supreme Court this term may turn on the question of religious freedom. But it will also likely determine how women will be able to access a key provision of the Affordable Care Act – one seeking to guarantee no-cost prescription contraception in most health insurance plans.

The justices' ruling on Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp v. Sebelius, two cases that are being considered together, is expected by the end of this month. The court will decide whether those companies, and potentially all other for-profit companies, must abide by the so-called contraceptive mandate. It's a complicated legal thicket, so here is some background. . . .

June 17, 2014 in Contraception, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

49 Years After Griswold, Access to Contraception Still Under Attack

RH Reality Check:  49 Years After Griswold: A Splintering Legacy

This month marks the 49th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, the landmark Supreme Court decision that ruled states could not criminalize contraception use between married couples.

In a Washington Post article published this March, Walter Dellinger noted that the oral arguments in the 1965 case suggested that, by 21st-century standards, the justices were “either uninformed about contraceptive methods or uncomfortable discussing them.” . . .

Fast forward nearly 50 years and the Supreme Court is once again considering the question of birth control, this time in the Hobby Lobby case . . . .

June 10, 2014 in Contraception, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Women Are Still Paying for Contraception, Despite Affordable Care Act's Contraception Rule

National Journal:  Why Women Don't Think Their Birth Control Is Free, by Clara Ritger:

More than half of women are still paying for their contraception despite the Affordable Care Act's mandate, a new survey shows.

Obamacare made contraception free. So why do only 42 percent of sexually active women report having their birth control fully covered?

In part, it's because some women who report using birth control rely on male condoms—which are not covered under the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate. The health law requires that new insurance policies cover all FDA-approved contraception prescribed for women without cost sharing, meaning that couples using male condoms still have to pay for them.

That's a significant number of women, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's 2013 Women's Health Survey, released Thursday. . . .

May 15, 2014 in Contraception | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Substantial Majority of Americans Support Affordable Care Act's Contraception Rule

The Los Angeles Times: Nearly 7 in 10 Americans say health plans should cover birth control, by Karen Kaplan: 

Among the various provisions of the Affordable Care Act, few are as controversial as the one requiring health insurance providers to include coverage for contraception. A new survey finds that support for this rule is widespread, with 69% of Americans in favor of the mandate.

Among 2,124 adults surveyed in November 2013, 1,452 agreed that “health plans in the United States should be required to include coverage” for “birth control medications,” according to a research letter published online Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. . . .

The research letter is available here.

April 28, 2014 in Contraception, Public Opinion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 4, 2014

The 71 For-Profit Companies That Have Challenged the Contraceptive Rule

Mother Jones:  It's Not Just Hobby Lobby: These 71 Companies Don't Want to Cover Your Birth Control Either, by Jaeah Lee:

Last week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Inc., the closely watched case in which the Oklahoma-based craft store chain has challenged the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate, requiring insurance policies to cover birth control without a copay. Hobby Lobby's high-profile case may have nabbed most of the headlines so far, but it's far from the only company that's taking on the Obama administration over the mandate.

Since February 2012, 71 other for-profit companies have challenged the ACA's contraceptive mandate in court, according to the National Women's Law Center (NWLC). The majority of these for-profit cases (46 in addition to Hobby Lobby's) are still pending. Jump to the full list of cases by clicking here. . . .

April 4, 2014 in Contraception, In the Courts, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hobby Lobby's Retirement Plan Includes Investments in Companies That Make Abortion Drugs

The Washington Post:  Antiabortion company Hobby Lobby reportedly invests retirement funds in abortion drugs, by Gail Sullivan:

“Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions … something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one,”  Hobby Lobby founder David Green wrote in an article for USA Today.

Hobby Lobby is so committed to those principles that it’s gone to the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge a provision in the Affordable Care Act that it says requires it to provide access to insurance covering birth control for its employees, some forms of which it equates with abortion.

No wonder then, the glee emanating from some quarters Tuesday when Molly Redden of Mother Jones reported that the company’s retirement plan holds $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that make abortion drugs. . . .

April 3, 2014 in Abortion, Contraception, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Commentary on Hobby Lobby

Balkinization: Religious Accommodations Cost More than Money, by Kara Loewentheil: 

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard arguments in the consolidated cases ofHobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. With the publication of the full argument transcript online, it became clear that even the experienced lawyers arguing these cases – along with the Supreme Court Justices themselves – were struggling to understand how to think about the relationship between religious accommodations and third party rights. In this context, that means the impacts that accommodations granted to religious employers would have on their female employees who would otherwise have access to contraception without cost-sharing under the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement (and indirectly on their partners and children). 
 
This came as no surprise to me. In When Free Exercise Is A Burden: Protecting “Third Parties” In Religious Accommodation Law, a paper I authored that is shortly forthcoming in the Drake Law Review, I argue that neither scholars nor courts have thus far provided a satisfying account of how to balance free exercise rights against the impact of those rights on “third parties.” . . .
 
In my paper I argue that the contraceptive coverage requirement has an enormously important expressive element – it signifies a social and political commitment to women’s social and economic equality, and symbolizes an acceptance of social and shared responsibility for gender equality. . . .
 
 
Hobby Lobby is shaping up to be the most important free exercise of religion case the Supreme Court has heard in a very long time.    It’s also emerging as a key test for Justice Anthony Kennedy and his vision of individual liberty.  Will Justice Kennedy recognize that Hobby Lobby’s employees, who seek to protect their health and control their reproductive lives, are entitled to enjoy federal guarantees that safeguard women’s liberty and personal dignity by ensuring access to the full range of contraceptives? . . .

March 28, 2014 in Contraception, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)