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Overturn the Hobby Lobby ruling! For the right to birth control of your choice!

birth-control-gumball-hobby-lobby-scotus-638x424By Joy Macready

The highest court in the US has dealt a serious blow against women’s rights and our right to control our bodies. On June 30, the Supreme Court decided to exempt Hobby Lobby and other closely held corporations (private companies in which more than half of shares is held by fewer than 5 individuals) from covering certain types of birth control in their insurance benefits because of the owners’ religious views.

This has given a green light to billionaire Hobby Lobby owner David Green, an evangelical Christian, to impose his personal religious views on his employees and their families who depend on employer-funded plans for their health needs – a benefit that they are guaranteed by law under the Affordable Care Act.

This decision effectively bars Hobby Lobby’s predominantly low-wage workers from obtaining intrauterine devices (IUDs) – which are among the most reliable and safe forms of contraception. An IUD can cost more than $1,000, including the office visit and insertion, a sum equal to a month’s full-time pay for a worker earning the minimum wage. The ruling also covers morning-after pills, Plan B and Ella, which the company argues are “abortifacients” or “abortion-causing drugs”.

Now more than 50 other closely held businesses – which describes almost 90 per cent of all companies in the US – have filed lawsuits against the “contraception mandate,” the ACA regulation requiring that birth control coverage be included in employee health plans. Many oppose covering any forms of birth control, not just IUDs and emergency contraception.

According to the Supreme Court, our bosses have more rights and control over our bodies and our fertility than we. Every woman in the US should stand up and fight to overturn this ruling – and to stop other companies/non-profit organizations, etc., from being able to dictate how we access our healthcare benefits. For this, we need to build a strong, working class-led women’s movement that attacks this decision on all fronts and fights for women’s liberation – in the work places and on the streets.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that the five Supreme Court Justices responsible for this decision happen to be all men appointed by Republican presidents. And they are all Roman Catholic. However, it should also be clear that workers, and especially women, should not put their hopes and confidence in the authority of the bourgeois court system in the first place. It has, and always will, favor corporate interests and the rich over the interests of workers.

However, these legal loopholes were sown into the fabric of the ACA from the outset. As we argued when it was passed in March 2010, despite giving an extra 32 million US citizens health insurance, the bill was riddled with holes so large that corporates and their legal teams could drive tanks through them. For example, grandfathered coverage is exempt from many of the most important reforms; some kinds of health insurance are not covered by the ACA, which leaves consumers unprotected by the ACA; and large group plans are not subject to all regulatory requirements (non-discriminatory premiums, single risk pools, etc.). These loopholes were the result of Obama caving in to the opponents of universal healthcare entitlement, continually conceding on key points. Also, women still have to pay 100% out of their own pocket for insurance cover on abortions.

In addition, although the majority of measures of the bill have now finally come into force, the ban against using gender as a factor when costing premiums will not come fully into force until 2017. (To read the full article, please go to http://www.workerspower.net/the-new-u-s-health-care-bill-a-betrayal-of-working-people-and-women)

Access to birth control and abortion is a core and basic health care need. The burden of repeated pregnancy and many children, of uncertainty about whether or when another child will be added to the family, the restriction of sexual pleasure as a result of fear of pregnancy – all of these undermine women’s ability to participate fully in social life, and achieve independence and control over their individual lives.

The provision of free contraception and abortion on demand for all women is therefore an essential part of women’s liberation. The choice as to when and whether to have a child gives working class women the ability to decide on their personal role in life and their relation to the world of work.

The labor movement and socialists must fight for state funding to allow women access to free contraception and abortion on demand, without a time limit. We must also fight for a universal, socialized healthcare system – paid for by taxing the rich, expropriating the wealth of the billionaires, and by nationalizing under worker’s control all banking and financial enterprises – under which everyone, women and men, would have access to doctors, medicines, operations and therapies needed for a healthy life.

To read more about the fight for women’s liberation, please go to:http://www.fifthinternational.org/content/key-documents/theses-women%E2%80%99s-oppression

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