Our Forgotton Foremother: Matilda Joslyn Gage

Elisabeth Garber-Paul

Nearly 150 years after their radical ideas helped to begin the first wave of feminism, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are still household names. However Matilda Joslyn Gage, the outspoken journalist and early advocate for civil rights who worked closely with them on the day to day operations of the National Woman Suffrage Association, has largely been left out of the story.

Nearly 150 years after their radical ideas helped to begin the first wave of feminism, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are still household names. However Matilda Joslyn Gage, the outspoken journalist and early advocate for civil rights who worked closely with them on the day to day operations of the National Woman Suffrage Association, has largely been left out of the story.

With Anthony and Cady Stanton, Gage helped write the 1876 Declaration of Rights of Women. She went with Anthony to present it in Philadelphia during the Centennial World’s Fair—and risked arrest in doing so.

But Gage did more than advocate equality for women—she saw how issues were interconnected, and therefore how the struggles were inherently linked, a big picture mentality that led Gloria Steinam to call her a “woman who was ahead of the women who were ahead of their time.”

“Until liberty is attained,” Gage wrote, “the broadest, the deepest, the highest liberty for all—not one set alone, one clique alone, but for men and women, black and white, Irish, Germans, Americans, and Negroes, there can be no permanent peace.”

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And while she may not be prominent in history books, her has message has lived on in an unusual manner—through Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz.

“Gage wrote about the superior position of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) women and supported treaty rights and Native sovereignty,” wrote feminist scholar Sally Roesch Wagner, director of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation. “Influenced by the Haudenosaunee egalitarian culture, she in turn influenced the utopian feminist vision of her son-in-law, L. Frank Baum, in his 14 Oz books.” (Book two ends with Tip, a little boy, learning that he is under a sex-change spell and is, in fact, a princess. Perhaps the first instance of a transgender protagonist in young adult fiction?)

Gage’s house in Fayetteville, NY, once a stop on the Underground Railroad, is now under construction to become a monument to Gage’s work and an educational center for the community—though the foundation is still raising funds to complete the renovations. And perhaps we should take these times of unjust laws and assassinations as an opportunity to look to the past, to our forgotten foremothers, to see that, as long as there has been the need, strong women have been using their voices to advocate for liberty and justice.

Commentary Law and Policy

Eighteen For-Profit Companies Fighting to Eliminate the Birth Control Benefit

Jodi Jacobson

Eighteen for-profit companies have filed lawsuits to overturn the birth control benefit in the Affordable Care Act, which requires that all insurance policies cover birth control without a co-pay as part of preventive care. These companies argue that including insurance coverage for birth control "violates their religious freedom." Here's a brief introduction to those companies and their cases.

Eighteen for-profit companies have filed lawsuits to avoid complying with the the birth control benefit in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which requires that all insurance policies cover birth control without a co-pay as part of preventive care. Often misleadingly characterized as mandating “free birth control,” the ACA, otherwise known as Obamacare, requires that all insurance policies cover all forms of basic preventive care without a co-pay, including well-woman, well-baby, and well-child visits, as well as other basic prevention care for men and women. This coverage is intended to save costs and promote public health.

Basic preventive reproductive and sexual health-care services, including contraception, are therefore also covered without a co-pay; as part of the mandate, all insurance plans must provide coverage without a co-pay for all methods of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Employees earn their salaries and their benefits, and many pay for all or a portion of their health-care premiums out of their salaries. As such, none of this coverage is “free,” but is rather covered by the policies they are earning or for which they are paying.

Nonetheless, the 18 companies that have sued to overturn the birth control benefit are doing so based on several misleading claims. One is that providing insurance policies that cover birth control violates the “religious freedom” of the companies’ owners. It is difficult to see how a critical public health intervention accessed through an employee’s health plan violates the religious freedom of the owner of the company. In fact, the reverse seems to be true; not allowing an employee to access coverage he or she has earned would appear to violate the employee’s freedoms, first and foremost. 

The owners of these companies share the belief that a woman is pregnant as soon as there is a fertilized egg (the medical definition of pregnancy is successful implantation of an embryo in the uterine wall) and that a fertilized egg has the same rights as a born person. They also claim that the ACA forces them to cover “abortifacients,” with most pointing to emergency contraception methods such as Plan B to make their case. Emergency contraception, however, is just that: Contraception. It prevents ovulation, and therefore fertilization, and does not work after an egg has been fertilized.   

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These lawsuits, now in various phases of litigation, are posing a critical challenge not only to the Affordable Care Act, but ultimately to the ability of all people to make the most profoundly personal decisions about whether, when, and under what circumstances to have a child and build a family.

Below is a list of these companies and the status of their cases. And Planned Parenthood Federation of America has launched a campaign enabling you to tell these companies what you think.

1. Tyndale House

Summary: An Illinois publishing company focusing on Christian books (and Bibles). The founder’s argument is that he shouldn’t have to provide his 260 employees with contraceptives he equates with abortion.

Status: U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton of the district court granted a preliminary injunction.

Tyndale House President and Chief Executive Mark D. Taylor.

Tyndale House President and Chief Executive Mark D. Taylor.

President and Chief Executive: Mark D. Taylor

Taylor sees ACA birth control mandate as a test of God’s law vs. Man’s law. “I’ve always thought—in a theoretical way—that I might someday face a situation where the government was asking or telling me to do something that was counter to God’s law as I understood it. If such a situation arose, I hoped I would have the backbone to stand tall and disobey the government mandate. Well, that day seems to have come.” (World Magazine; October 2012)

Taylor equates Plan B and intrauterine devices (IUDs) with abortions because they prevent implantation. “As a Protestant, I don’t have a moral objection to contraceptives per se. But [the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)] defines contraception to include abortifacients such as Plan B (the morning-after pill), Ella (the week-after pill), and intrauterine devices. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admits that one purpose of these drugs and devices is to keep the fertilized egg from “implantation” onto the wall of the uterus. In other words, their purpose is to cause an early abortion of a human being that is made in the image of God.” (World Magazine; October 2012)

Taylor feels he has biblical confirmation that his lawsuit is protecting the word of God. “The day after we filed the lawsuit, the daily reading from The One Year Bible included the first chapter of Jeremiah and these verses:

The LORD gave me this message: ‘I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations’ (Jeremiah 1:4-5, NLT).

How’s that for biblical confirmation that the unborn baby is important in the eyes of God! After reading that passage, I felt confirmed in my responsibility to stand up against a government that is trampling on my religious liberty. May God be merciful to all of us.” (World Magazine; October 2012)

2. Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics

Summary: The produce processing and packing companies are Ohio-based but serve 23 states and employ about 400 people. “The government is requiring them to enter into a contract and to pay for things that they find morally objectionable, and they just want to be able to continue what they’ve been doing,” one of their lawyers argued. They’ve excluded contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs from their company health insurance for the past decade. Co-founders are two Catholic brothers.

The produce processing and packing companies are Ohio-based but serve 23 states and employ about 400 people.

The produce processing and packing companies are Ohio-based but serve 23 states and employ about 400 people.

Status: Complaint filed. In response to plaintiffs’ contention that their case is sufficiently related to the Tyndale case, the district court ordered plaintiffs to demonstrate as much by February 8.

Co-founder and CEO: Frank Gilardi

Co-founder and President: Phil Gilardi

“Freshway Foods trucks bear signs stating, ‘It’s not a choice, it’s a child,’ as a way to promote the owners’ anti-abortion views to the public, according to [a] legal complaint.” (Journal News; January 2013)

Freshway Foods has deliberately excluded contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs from its company health coverage for 10 years. “’Our clients believe that having to pay for contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization will cause them to violate their religious beliefs and moral values,’ said Edward White, Senior Counsel of the [American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ)]. ‘They have specifically excluded such things from their company’s health insurance plan for the past ten years. The HHS mandate, however, will require them to pay for such drugs and services on April 1st. They have filed this lawsuit seeking an injunction against the mandate so they can continue to run their business in accordance with their religious beliefs and moral values.’” (ACLJ; January 2013)

3. Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation

Norman Hahn.

Norman Hahn.

Summary: A Pennsylvania-based wood cabinet and specialty products manufacturer run by Mennonites who think some birth-control products such as Plan B are “sinful and immoral” and “an intrinsic evil and a sin against God.” The company employs 950 people.

Status: The court dismissed a motion for preliminary injunction, but the plaintiffs appealed to the Third Circuit last month.

Owners: Norman Hahn, Elizabeth Hahn, Norman Lamar Hahn, Anthony N. Hahn, and Kevin Hahn 

The owners argue they are acting in accordance with their faith by not covering contraception, and being forced to cover it is “un-American.” “‘People of faith should not be punished for making decisions according to the deepest convictions of that faith,’ said Attorney Charles W. Proctor, III, who is representing the Hahn family. ‘When government grows so invasive to force persons to violate their conscience, government is out of control and clearly outside the bounds of our Constitutions’ Bill of Rights .… The Health and Human Services abortion pill mandate would unconstitutionally force the Hahn family, owners and operators of Conestoga Wood Specialties, to do something offensive to their conscience—under threat of onerously large fines and penalties,’ he continued. ‘This is un-American.’” (Christian News; December 2012) 

They argue that Plan B is equivalent to an abortion, and call it “intrinsic evil.” “‘The Mennonite Church teaches that taking of life, which includes anything that terminates a fertilized embryo, is intrinsic evil, and a sin against God to which they are held accountable,’ said the lawsuit brought by Norman Hahn, Norman Lemar Hahn and Anthony H. Hahn. Both abortion and any abortifacient contraception that may cause an abortion are ‘equally objectionable,’ they said.” (Washington Times; December 2012) 

They have said mandating that they offer contraception is “sinful and immoral.” “Conestoga Wood in December had sued the U.S. Secretaries of Labor, Health and Human Services and the Treasury, alleging it would be ‘sinful and immoral’ to make the company comply with the law by paying for or supporting certain forms of contraception.” (Lancaster Online; January 2013) 

4. Hercules Industries, Inc.

Summary: A Colorado corporation that manufactures heating, ventilation, and air conditioning products and employs 303 staffers. 

James Newland, Paul Newland, William Newland, Andrew Newland

James Newland, Paul Newland, William Newland, Andrew Newland

Status: The district court granted an injunction. The government has appealed to the Tenth Circuit.

Founders and Owners: James Newland, Paul Newland, William Newland, and Andrew Newland

Number of children: The Newlands are five sibling-owners of Hercules Industries. The number of children they each have is unknown. 

Hercules is a for-profit, secular employer, but is incorporating Catholicism into its “corporate culture.”  “Although Hercules is a for-profit, secular employer, the Newlands [founders] adhere to the Catholic denomination of the Christian faith. According to the Newlands, ‘they seek to run Hercules in a manner that reflects their sincerely held religious beliefs.’ Thus, for the past year and a half the Newlands have implemented within Hercules a program designed to build their corporate culture based on Catholic principles.” (Court files; July 2012)

Hercules Industries’ previous health insurance plan intentionally left out contraceptive coverage because of the Newlands’ Catholic beliefs. “According to Plaintiffs, Hercules maintains a self-insured group plan for its employees ‘[a]s part of fulfilling their organizational mission and Catholic beliefs and commitments.’ Significantly, because the Catholic Church condemns the use of contraception, Hercules self-insured plan does not cover abortifacent drugs, contraception, or sterilization.” (Court files; July 2012)

Ironically, Hercules Industries was going to be awarded a Good Citizenship Award for a number of features, including its health-care coverage. The award was taken away when the company won its court injunction. “Hercules Industries, a heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning manufacturer that employs 300 workers and has been in business in the Mile-High City for 50 years, was to be honored with a ‘Good Citizenship Award.’ The laurel was in recognition of contributions to the community, including the historic restoration of company headquarters and, ironically, its ‘generous employee health care coverage.’” (Fox News; August 2012)

5. Hobby Lobby

Summary: A national craft supply chain based in Oklahoma City that employs over 13,000 people across the country. 

David Green.

David Green.

Status: The district court denied the preliminary injunction, but Hobby Lobby appealed to the Tenth Circuit, which denied separate injunctive relief but has not yet decided whether to grant the preliminary injunction. The plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court for the separate relief, but the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Founder: David Green

Green argues that his religious beliefs support his thousands of employees and their families. “’Our family is now being forced to choose … between following the laws of the land that we love or maintaining the religious beliefs that have made our business successful and supported our family and thousands of our employees and their families,’ Green said … during a conference call. ‘We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.'” (The Oklahoman; September 2012)

Green says the foundation of his business is “honoring the Lord in a manner consistent with biblical principles.” “‘The foundation of our business has been, and will continue to be strong values, and honoring the Lord in a manner consistent with biblical principles,’ a statement on the Hobby Lobby website reads, adding that one outgrowth of that is the store is closed on Sundays to give its employees a day of rest.” (CNN; January 2013)

6. Sioux Chief Manufacturing

Summary: A Missouri plumbing products company that employs 370 people.

Status: Complaint filed.

Joe Ismert.

Joe Ismert.

CEO: Joe Ismert

The Ismert family alleges that the contraception mandate interferes with their desire to embody the moral teachings of the Catholic Church in their business. “‘The Mandate illegally and unconstitutionally coerces Plaintiffs to violate their sincerely held Catholic beliefs under threat of heavy fines and penalties,’ reads the suit in part. ‘The Mandate also forces Plaintiffs to fund government-dictated speech that is directly at odds with the religious ethics derived from their deeply held religious beliefs and the moral teachings of the Catholic Church that they strive to embody in their business.'” (Christian Post; January 2013)

The Ismerts’ lawyer has called the contraception mandate “unprecedented, unnecessary, and unconstitutional.”  “‘Americans should be free to honor God and live according to their consciences wherever they are,’ said [lawyer Jonathan R.] Whitehead. ‘They have the God-given freedom to live and transact business according to their faith, and the First Amendment has always protected that. Forcing Americans to ignore their faith just to earn a living is unprecedented, unnecessary, and unconstitutional.'” (Christian Post; January 2013)

7. Domino’s Farms

Summary: The Michigan-based property management company owned by Tom Monaghan, the same man who founded Domino’s Pizza. Forty-five full-time and 44 part-time employees work there.

Status: The district court granted a temporary restraining order. Court heard motion preliminary injunction on January 31.

Tom Monaghan.

Tom Monaghan.

Owner: Tom Monaghan

Monaghan’s case refers to contraception as “a grave sin” and likens Plan B to abortion. “The lawsuit, filed in federal court, claims that the new law ‘attacks and desecrates a foremost tenet of the Catholic Church,’ which considers contraception ‘a grave sin.’ It adds that the mandate compels insurance issuers to cover the morning-after pill, ‘despite their known abortifacient mechanisms of action.’” (AOL; December 2012)

Before the ACA rule, Monaghan specifically crafted an insurance plan that did not include contraceptives or sterilization. “Before Obamacare, however, Monaghan had been able to ‘engineer’ an insurance policy through Blue Cross and Blue Shield that had exemptions for contraceptives and sterilization, according to [Thomas More Law Center President and Chief Counsel Richard] Thompson.” (AOL; December 2012)

Monaghan once countered the idea that contraceptive coverage extends equal opportunity to women in the workforce by citing that his lead counsel, Erin Mersino, won their case’s first victory while more than seven months pregnant. “‘The federal government says we need this law so that women have an equal opportunity in the workforce, so they can choose if and when they have children,’ said Thompson. But Mersino managed that legal victory, he points out, while seven-and-a-half months pregnant.” (AOL; December 2012)

8. Autocam Corporation

Summary: A West-Michigan-based company that makes parts for transportation and medical equipment and employs 680 people across the United States. CEO John Kennedy and family are Catholic.

Status: The district court denied preliminary injunction. Plaintiffs appealed to the Sixth Circuit, which denied injunction and motion to reconsider.

John Kennedy.

John Kennedy.

CEO: John Kennedy

Kennedy made this video in association with CatholicVote.org to explain his opposition to the ACA mandate. In it, he likens Plan B and IUDs to abortion. “The Affordable Care Act forces me to pay for things that violate my deeply held beliefs, such as abortion-inducing drugs, and makes it difficult for us to offer these great benefits to our associates. I can’t in good conscience choose between violating my beliefs and meeting my associates’ needs,” he says in the video.

Again, Kennedy has likened Plan B and IUDs to abortion. “‘Why is the Obama administration prioritizing life- ending drugs over lifesaving drugs?’ said Kennedy, who filed the lawsuit with the support of the Catholic Vote Legal Defense Fund and the Thomas More Society of Chicago.” (MLive.com; October 2012)

9. O’Brien Industrial Holdings

Summary: A Missouri company that processes ceramic materials and employs 87 people.

Status: After the district court granted motion to dismiss, the plaintiffs appealed to the Eighth Circuit. Last November, the Eighth Circuit issued a stay pending the appeal, over the dissent of one judge.

Frank R. O'Brien.

Frank R. O’Brien.

Owner: Frank R. O’Brien

The company website says, “Our conduct is guided by the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments. We will not discriminate based on anyone’s personal belief system.” Mission: Our mission is to make our labor a pleasing offering to the Lord while enriching our families and society …. Integrity: Our conduct is guided by the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments. We will not discriminate based on anyone’s personal belief system …. People: We are an organization that will attract and keep outstanding personnel. Mean spirited behavior will not be tolerated.” (O’Brien Industrial Holdings)

O’Brien’s lawyer has argued that businesses should be governed by moral values, not government. “‘We have argued from the beginning that employers like Frank O’Brien must be able to operate their business in a manner consistent with their moral values, not the values of the government,'” said attorney Francis Manion. (Associated Press; November 2012)

10. American Pulverizer Company

Summary: Owned by founders Paul and Henry Griesedieck, who have controlling interest in four Missouri-based companies involved in the business of wholesale scrap metal recycling. Their companies employ about 150 people.

Status: The district court granted a preliminary injunction in part because of the O’Brien stay precedent.

Paul and Henry Griesedieck.

Paul and Henry Griesedieck.

Founders: Paul and Henry Griesedieck

The Griesediecks have argued that “it would be sinful for us to pay for services that have a significant risk of causing the death of embryonic lives.” “In their lawsuit, the Griesediecks contend that compliance with the Obamacare mandate would force them to violate their religious and moral beliefs. In their lawsuit, the Griesediecks state that ‘it would be sinful for us to pay for services that have a significant risk of causing the death of embryonic lives.’” (Life News; January 2013)

The Griesedieck brothers have likened Plan B to abortion. “The owners, who are Evangelical Christians, contend that the HHS mandate requiring coverage for abortion-inducing drugs—including the ‘morning-after pill’—violates their religious beliefs.” (ACLJ; October 2012)

11. Sharpe Holdings, Inc.

Summary: A Missouri corporation that is involved in the farming, dairy, creamery, and cheese-making industries and employs at least 100 people.

Charles N. Sharpe.

Charles N. Sharpe.

Status: The district court granted a temporary restraining order that’s in effect until the court rules on further injunctive relief.

Founder and CEO: Charles N. Sharpe

Sharpe has likened Plan B and IUDs to abortion. “Rather, the focus of their claims for injunctive relief is the ability of these devices to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the wall of the uterus, thereby leading to the ejection of the fertilized egg from the woman’s body, in other words, the abortion of the live fetus.” (Court files; December 2012)

Sharpe believes that Plan B and IUDs are “abortion on demand.” “In accordance with their sincerely held religious beliefs and practices, the individual plaintiffs oppose the use, funding, provision, or support of abortion on demand and believe that the use of Plan B, Ella, and copper IUDs constitutes abortion on demand.” (Court files; December 2012)

12. Annex Medical, Inc.

Summary: Plaintiffs Stuart Lind and Thomas Janas are Minnesota business owners, the former of whom owns and operates Annex Medical and Sacred Heart Medical, companies that design, manufacture, and sell medical devices and employ 16 full-time and two part-time workers. Janas is an entrepreneur who has owned several dairy businesses in the past and intends to purchase another in 2013. He currently operates Habile Holdings and Venture North Properties, companies that lease commercial properties but currently have no employees.

medicalannex

Annex Medical and Sacred Heart Medical, companies that design, manufacture, and sell medical devices and employ 16 full-time and two part-time workers

Status: The district court denied preliminary injunction, but the plaintiffs appealed to the Eighth Circuit in January and got an injunction pending appeal, relying on the O’Brien order.

Owners: Stuart Lind and Thomas Janas

Lind and Janas believe insurance plans covering contraception are “sinful” and “immoral.” “Lind and Janas believe that paying for a group health insurance plan that complies with Defendants’ Mandate is sinful and immoral because it requires them and/or the businesses they control to pay for contraception, sterilization, abortifacient drugs and related education and counseling in violation of their sincere and deeply-held religious beliefs and the teachings of the Catholic Church.” (Court files; November 2012)

Lind and Janas believe that any action intended to prevent procreation is forbidden, whether before, during, or after intercourse. “Plaintiffs Stuart Lind and Tom Janas are devout Catholics who are steadfastly committed to biblical principles and the teachings of the Catholic Church, including the belief that life involves the creative action of God, and is therefore sacred. Lind and Janas therefore believe that any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation is an evil forbidden by God.” (Court files; November 2012)

Lind and Janas have likened Plan B to abortion. “Among the products the Mandate requires Plaintiffs’ group plans to fund are Plan B (the ‘morning after pill’) and Ella (the ‘week after pill’), drugs that are designed to destroy early human life shortly after conception.” (Court files; November 2012)

13. Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc.

Summary: An Illinois-based full-service construction contractor that employs about 90 workers. The Kortes “are adherents of the Catholic faith” and “wish to conduct business in a manner that does not violate their religious faith,” according to the suit.

Status: The district court denied preliminary injunction, but the plaintiffs appealed to the Seventh Circuit, which issued an order granting the emergency motion for an injunction pending appeal over the strong dissent of one judge.

Cyril "Pete" Korte.

Cyril “Pete” Korte.

Owners: Cyril “Pete” Korte and Jane Korte

President: Cyril “Pete” Korte

Secretary: Jane Korte

The majority of the company’s employees choose to take coverage from their unions, rather than the company. “They employ about 90 full-time employees, about 70 of whom belong to and receive health insurance coverage from unions. The other 20 non-union employees receive coverage under a group plan provided by the Kortes’ company, according to their complaint.” (Madison-St. Clair Record; October 2012) 

The Kortes take issue with Plan B, likening it to abortion. “Complying with the mandate would require the Kortes to violate their religious beliefs because it requires them to pay for, provide or otherwise support contraception, sterilization and abortion, the suit states, specifically noting the ‘morning-after pill.’” (Madison-St. Clair Record; October 2012)

14. Triune Health Group

Summary: A secular Illinois corporation that specializes in facilitating the re-entry of injured workers into the workforce. The health group employs 95 people.

Status: The district court granted a preliminary injunction.

Christopher and Mary Anne Yep.

Christopher and Mary Anne Yep.

Founders: Christopher and Mary Anne Yep

The Yeps have likened Plan B to abortion. “The Yeps embrace a belief which is embedded in Triune’s mission statement that each individual be ‘treated with the human dignity and respect that God intended.’ They say the Obamacare contraceptive mandate, administered by HHS and the other federal agencies named in the lawsuit, as well as the Illinois insurance contraceptive mandate, administered by Illinois’ Department of Insurance, require the Triune to provide and pay for abortion-related and contraceptive coverage for its employees and their families.” (Life News; January 2013)

The Yeps have said that the contraceptive mandate imposes a “gravely oppressive burden” on their religious beliefs. “‘The federal and state governments are coercing our clients to violate their conscientious convictions in a fashion that is completely at odds with the resounding declarations of our Founding Fathers and our modern Supreme Court jurisprudence,’ said Samuel B. Casey, Managing Director and General Counsel for the Jubilee Campaign’s Law of Life Project.” (Life News; January 2013)

Ironically, Triune Health Group was recently awarded “Best Workplace for Women” by Crain’s Chicago Business. “In Crain’s survey, Triune employees said it’s not the company’s written policies or benefits that stand out—in fact, some even expressed a desire for more than three weeks’ vacation. But workers seemed to value the flexible approach that management takes with each employee’s needs. For years, the company has posted a 95 percent employee retention rate. Most employees work out of their homes and are given flex-time, part-time and telecommuting options.” (Crain’s Chicago Business; May 2012)

15. Grote Industries

Summary: An Indiana-based privately held manufacturer of vehicle safety systems. The family-owned company has 1,448 full-time employees. The Grote family is Roman Catholic.

William "Bill" Grote.

William “Bill” Grote.

Status: The district court denied a preliminary injunction. Plaintiffs appealed to the Seventh Circuit, which consolidated the case with Korte (#8) and granted Grote Industries a temporary injunction pending appeal, over the strong dissent of one judge.

Owner: William “Bill” Grote

Before the ACA, Grote Industries did not offer contraception in its company health insurance plan, citing the family’s Catholic beliefs. “The [Grotes] are Catholic and claim to operate their business according to the ‘precepts of their faith.’ This includes adhering to the Catholic Church’s teachings regarding ‘the moral wrongfulness of abortifacient drugs, contraception, and sterilization’ and denying their employees contraception coverage in the company’s plan.” (Rewire; February 2013)

16. Weingartz Supply Company

Summary: A secular Michigan company that sells outdoor power equipment and employees 170 people. Owner Daniel Weingartz is Roman Catholic.

Daniel Weingartz.

Daniel Weingartz.

Status: The district court granted a preliminary injunction for plaintiff Daniel Weingartz and Weingartz Supply Company, but not Legatus, a non-profit organization comprising more than 4,000 Catholic business owners and organizations that also got involved with the case. Defendants appealed to the Sixth Circuit in January. The government has filed a cross-appeal.

President: Daniel Weingartz

Weingartz has deliberately excluded contraceptive coverage in his company’s health-care plan. “Mr. Weingartz, a Roman Catholic, said he had devised a health plan that, in keeping with his religious beliefs, excluded coverage of contraceptives.” (New York Times; November 2012) 

 17. Infrastructure Alternatives, Inc.

Dredging.

Dredging.

Summary: A Michigan contractor in the fields of environmental dredging, contaminated sediment remediation, geotextile tube installation, and water treatment operations.

Status: Complaint filed. 

 

 18. Tonn and Blank Construction, LLC

construction

Indiana Construction company launches suit.

Summary: An Indiana construction company. The suit hasn’t gotten any publicity.

Status: Awaiting responses to motion for preliminary injunction, motion to dismiss, and motion to consolidate with Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

 

 

Sign the petition and read about the Birth Control Bosses here: http://ow.ly/iKVko

Sign the petition and read about the Birth Control Bosses here.

See our other coverage of these cases:

Tyndale:
The Sliding Scale of Sin: Tyndale Publishers and Contraception Without a Co-Pay
What’s Next In The Litigation Over The Obamacare Contraception Mandate?

Freshway:
Legal Wrap: Personhood, Statutory Rape, and the Second-Class Legal Status of Women

Conestoga:
Mennonite Business Latest To Challenge Contraception Mandate

Hercules Industries:

Federal Judge In Michigan Rules Against Birth Control Benefit in Favor of Business Owner
Will the Religious Right Succeed? An Examination of the Hercules Ruling on the Birth Control Benefit

Hobby Lobby:
Vajazzling for Jesus: Hobby Lobby Aims a Glue Gun at the Birth Control Benefit

Sotomayor Is Right: Hobby Lobby’s Legal Claims Are Not “Indisputably Clear”

Hobby Lobby Appeals Contraception Ruling

Bush Appointee Rejects Hobby Lobby Arguments Against Birth Control Benefit

In Hobby Lobby Case, Federal Court Weighs Whether Secular Employers Can Exercise Religious Rights

DOJ Makes The Case For Dismissing Hobby Lobby Suit Against Birth Control Benefit

Religious and Activist Groups Petition Hobby Lobby to Stop Birth Control Lawsuit

Domino’s:
Domino’s Pizza Founder Latest To Try And Block Contraception Mandate

Dominos Pizza Founder Wont Have To Comply With Contraception Mandate, Judge Rules 

O’Brien:
The O’Brien Decision: A Gift to the Obama Administration From a Bush Appointee 

Sharpe: Missouri Cheesemaker Wins Temporary Injunction Against ACA Birth Control Benefit

Korte: 7th Circuit Blocks Contraception Mandate, Suggests Expansion of “Religious Liberty” for Corporations

Grote: Latest Seventh Circuit Decision on Birth Control Benefit Paves Another Path To SCOTUS 
Weingartz: Federal Judge In Michigan Rules Against Birth Control Benefit in Favor of Business Owner

 

What the First Wave of Feminism Can Teach the First Wave of Common Ground

Mary Krane Derr

Prolifers and prochoicers will differ on how much they can relate to early feminist views on abortion. Yet, both can lay claim to their analysis of the societal problems implicated in unintended pregnancy and abortion, and their solutions.

Feminists
of the 1960s and 70s were hardly the first to address issues of
problematic pregnancy and abortion. Their nineteenth and early
twentieth century foremothers also took a strong, if–to many
today–unexpected stand. Since at least the late 1980s, prochoicers
and prolifers have disputed the precise content and meaning of early
feminists’ stance on abortion and pregnancy.

The
dispute most surely flared in 2006, when known prolifer Carol Crossed
purchased Susan B. Anthony’s birthplace in Adams, Massachusetts with
hopes of turning it into a museum. Some prochoicers objected that prolifers were deceiving and pushing their way
onto territory where they decidedly did not belong. Despite the
controversy, the museum is well on its way, with a broad range of
supporters. 

This
is, I think, as it should be. I conclude this from twenty years of
researching abortion as an early feminist concern.  While I cannot here
do justice to the abundant, many-voiced early feminist literature on
abortion, I can briefly outline a consensus shared by everyone from
anarchist, free-thinking “free lovers” to Women’s Christian Temperance
Union members. 

Like
some who identify as feminists today, early feminists opposed abortion
out of a belief that life began at conception and acquired human rights
at that point. The context of this belief was something parallel to a
present-day consistent life ethic. 

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They did not oppose abortion simply in deference to its illegality. They
nonviolently challenged many quite legal practices, such as the denial
of women’s right to vote, marital rape, and legal bans on open
discussion and provision of family planning. Early feminists were deeply concerned about the danger to women’s lives from unsafe procedures. At the same time, they spoke about any abortion that killed a woman as a taking of two lives, not one.

Today’s
prolifers and prochoicers will obviously differ in how much they can
relate to early feminist opposition to abortion. However, people on
both "sides" will likely resonate with the early feminist analysis of
the societal problems implicated in unintended pregnancy and abortion,
along with the solutions they offered.

Early
feminists demanded, and even themselves created, greater social supports
for pregnant and parenting women and their children. Single mothers and
their children were ruthlessly denied food, clothing, shelter, and
health care on the grounds that this was aiding and abetting
“immorality.”  Many single mothers could not survive without going into
prostitution. Married mothers, too, struggled in isolation with such
difficulties as domestic violence and economic insecurity. If they
were middle or upper class, they faced enforced economic dependence; if
working class, toxin-riddled, unsafe jobs that failed to pay living
wages or allow for healthy child care practices. As happens today,
pious rhetoric about the sacredness of marriage, home, and family
frequently obscured these difficulties. 

Early feminists squarely held men responsible for any children they conceived, inside or outside marriage. They
called men to responsibility in an even more radical way, starting with
antislavery documentation of sexual and reproductive outrages white men
committed against African American women and children.  As Matilda
Joslyn Gage stated, no “subject lies deeper down into woman’s wrongs”
than “the denial of the right to herself.” 

Although this might seem very strange to today’s prochoicers, when
early feminists spoke of a woman’s right to her own body, for them this
did not include a right to abortion. A woman’s body-right
did encompass other practices they likely endorse–and that many
prolifers likely do, too. 

Early
feminists agreed that at the very least, woman’s right to her own body
meant her right to choose whether, when, and with whom she wished to
have penis-vagina sex and thus face the possibility of conception. It
definitely included a right to thorough sexual/reproductive health
education.

Against
widespread contempt for “old maids” like Susan B. Anthony, early
feminists defended women’s right and ability to choose a generative
singlehood. Some extended woman’s body-right to contraception and even
to “Alphaism,” or sexual practices other than penis-vagina sex. Some,
like Drs. Emily Blackwell and Elizabeth Cushier, openly chose “Boston
marriages,” or committed same-sex domestic partnerships.

This
“herstory” holds two-at least two–big lessons for today’s common
ground movement. First, many prochoicers and prolifers alike can
validly claim these pioneering feminists as foremothers. Substantial
numbers in both “camps” share a consciousness of women’s and
already-born children’s rights arising from shared historical sources. 

Second,
if people from both “sides” share this consciousness, they can together
contemplate the early feminist analysis of causes and solutions for
unintended pregnancy and abortion. They can ask: How does this
analysis fit and no longer fit the present? To what particular
collective as well as individual responsibilities does it invite us? 

What
if a strong prochoice-prolife coalition demanded a toxin-free
environment, a better child support enforcement system, a living wage,
paid family leave, and universal health care, including prompt access
to quality prenatal care, and drug rehabilitation for those who need
it? What if we redesigned schools, workplaces, places of recreation,
and houses of worship to be truly family-friendly, to all kinds of families?

In
regard to abortion itself, today’s prolifers and prochoicers obviously
draw the parameters of a woman’s body-right differently.  For many
prolifers, pregnancy interconnects two equally valuable bodies and
lives. For many prochoicers, pregnancy is a matter of one body and life, the woman’s, and/or perhaps a fully realized life
nurturing a potential life inside of herself.  But why can’t both
“sides” at least cooperate on defending a woman’s body-right before conception?

Comprehensive
sex education already enjoys a broad base of public support. It can
incorporate strong messages of male responsibility and nonviolence
towards women and children, as well as teaching young women the
assertiveness and self-respect vital to making positive decisions about
their bodies and lives.

And rooted as it is basic civil liberties of speech, association, religion, and privacy, freedom of conscience in pregnancy prevention
is another potentially large area of common ground. This includes the
right to personally choose, or not choose, from among the various
reversible or permanent contraceptiv
e methods, fertility awareness/natural family planning,
abstinence/celibacy, and sexual practices other than penis-vagina sex,
whether in the context of straight or gay relationships. 

I’m not one of them, but I hope people with religious or ethical
objections to any of these practices can agree that it is not
government’s place to decide how any of us do or do not exercise this
right—even if government is responsible for ensuring that everyone can
exercise it freely.

At
the same time, I would like skeptical prochoicers to consider that
prolifers may already be more supportive of woman’s body-right than
expected. I personally have advocated this right for years, and know other prolifers who have done the same. We are not isolated cases. According to a national public opinion survey by the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, eight in ten respondents who identified as prolife supported women’s access to contraception. In the Christian Science Monitor
, pollster Nate Silver recently noted the “ increasing number of pro-life, pro-gay marriage Americans, particularly among Generation Y’ers.”

If
prolifers and prochoicers both take up and work steadily on these
shared reproductive justice responsibilities, both at the collective
and individual levels: what will our descendants be talking about and doing in a century or two? What places will unintended pregnancy and abortion have and not have in their society? I for one would love to know!