Population Matters

The Supreme Court thinks it is 1964, not 2014

July 1st, 2014

In 1965 the Supreme Court ruled in Griswold v. Connecticut that married women could legally use birth control. Yesterday, 49 years later, the Supreme Court ruled that your boss’ religious views could trump your own beliefs and prevent you from accessing affordable contraception. It is nearly impossible for me to wrap my head around the idea that in 2014 women are still fighting for the right to access affordable contraception.

Contraception is basic health care for women. Not only does birth control allow women to plan when and if they get pregnant, thus preventing unintended pregnancies and reducing the need for abortion, it is treatment for a number of medical conditions. According to the Guttmacher Institute 62% of all women of reproductive age are currently using a method of contraception and 99% of women of reproductive age who have ever had sex have used a method of contraception.

When the Institute of Medicine was making its recommendations for what should be classified as preventative services, and thus available without a co-pay, it recognized that cost can be a barrier. This is particularly true with the IUD, which is the one of the most effective types of birth control, but not widely used in the United States for a number of reasons, cost among them. However, research has shown that when cost and lack of information are not a consideration women are much more likely to use a more effective method like an IUD or implant.

By allowing bosses to impose their religious beliefs on their employees fewer women will consistently use birth control and fewer will choose the most effective method, a concern that was raised in Justice Ginsburg’s dissent.

“It bears note…that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full time pay for workers earning the minimum wage…Working for Hobby Lobby…should not deprive employees of the preventative care available to workers at the shop next door.”—Justice Ginsburg

Unfortunately for any woman affected by yesterday’s decision, there will now be one more person in the doctor’s room with her when she chooses a contraceptive method… her boss.

Posted by Jennie Wetter, Director of Public Policy

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