Birth control access: Every woman’s right

The question before the U.S. Supreme Court on whether companies can opt out of paying health insurance plans that include the coverage of birth control medication is a troubling one.

The big hitter in this lawsuit is Hobby Lobby, an arts and craft chain retailer with more than 600 stores nationwide.

Run by a Christian family, the company is arguing it would be against the religious beliefs of its owners to potentially pay for a female employee’s prescription birth control, citing two specific methods – the morning after pill and intrauterine devices.

The Affordable Care Act requires contraceptives be covered as part of its push toward preventative healthcare.

IUDs are currently the most effective form of temporary birth control on the market, yet only 5.6 percent of women who use contraceptives use an IUD, according to a study from the Guttmacher Institute.

This is likely because of the high cost of IUDs, which can range from $500 to $1,000.

Hobby Lobby’s owners are saying they view these two types of birth control as a form of abortion, an argument that on its face has some serious issues.

Abortions are procedures that end pregnancy, which can only take place when sperm joins an egg.

Both IUDs and the morning after pill prevent this process from happening – they prevent pregnancy. They don’t end it.

But even if you agree these types of contraceptives can be seen as abortion, the rest of Hobby Lobby’s argument stops short once it hits the company’s bottom line.

If the owners of Hobby Lobby have such strongly held religious beliefs – so strong that they can’t pay health insurance premiums that may cover a birth control prescription they have absolutely no right knowing about in the first place – then perhaps that strong belief shouldn’t just carry over to the employees, but to the products they sell and to the people who buy them.

Perhaps this company should check into the history of countries like China, where I’m sure Hobby Lobby sources many of its products, to learn about its less than reputable “family planning” practices.

How can business owners tell women that paying for health insurance that covers their birth control is an affront to their deeply held religious beliefs, but buying materials or products from a country that forces abortions on its citizens is not?

And is Hobby Lobby tracking every dollar it pays to its employees, ensuring that none of this money spent by Hobby Lobby is being used for other sinful things? Aren’t female employees that use the money from their paychecks to pay for their birth control still using Hobby Lobby cash? What about the people who buy their products? Shouldn’t they be held to the same religious standards?

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, or so they say.

I believe strongly that religion should be protected under the Constitution and that people should feel free to practice their religion anywhere they wish. I believe religion is a positive thing and does so much good for so many people in the world.

But I believe just as strongly that what people choose to do with their own bodies is their decision to make and not subject to the morality of someone else’s religion.

Just as women have the right to choose whether to have a baby, they also have the right to make that decision without input from their employers or their employers’ religious beliefs.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jackie Stark is a Chocolay Township resident and a staff reporter at The Mining Journal. Her column appears bi-weekly. She can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is jstark@miningjournal.net.