Commentary Contraception

The ‘Hobby Lobby’ Decision and Black Women’s Health

Linda Goler Blount

For Black women, the decision echoes a history of employers imposing their religious beliefs on our reproductive freedom.

Read more of our coverage on the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases here.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court undermined the intent of the Affordable Care Act with its decision that closely held corporations can use personal religious beliefs as a basis to exclude coverage for contraception in employer-based health insurance.

Once again, a majority of men have decided that they know better than America’s women what kinds of contraception women should have access to, finding that religion trumps women’s personal decisions to control their own reproductive health.

This decision will have serious implications for the 83 percent of Black women across the United States who currently use some form of contraception, and could force many to go without access to contraceptive care or pay for the cost of an already covered benefit out of their own pocket. The costs can be high, resulting in serious economic consequences for many women.

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Unfortunately, this ruling is all too familiar. For Black women, it echoes a history of employers imposing their religious beliefs on our reproductive freedom.

This decision also sets a dangerous precedent that could embolden employers to try to decide against coverage for a range of other health-care benefits. This is in direct conflict with the Affordable Care Act, which has already been shown to have improved access to care and coverage to many women in need.

We at the Black Women’s Health Imperative stand firm in our position that corporate belief and ideology should not be placed before women’s rights.

While the Court has opened the door for employers’ beliefs to become yet another barrier to access care, the Imperative will continue to fight on behalf of Black women across the country for the right to make and act on intimate, personal decisions regarding their health care.

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