The U.S. Supreme Court heard a number of cases on reproductive justice topics in early 2014. Here is your guide for following the cases, including summaries of the decision and talking points for letters to the editor.
Oral arguments were heard March 25, 2014. The decision was released on June 30. 2014.
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against women and their reproductive health in the name of a twisted application of religious liberty. The ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood maintained that ‘closely-held’ for-profit corporations, like these and a significant percent of corporations in the United States, possess more religious liberty and rights than their female employees. The qualifications offered by the majority opinion suggests that these loopholes apply only to contraceptive coverage and not to other religiously contested medical opinions, such as vaccinations and blood transfusions, and that in other circumstances, religious freedom must not be used as a tool for discrimination. Past Supreme Court rulings with similarly narrow decisions, however, have transformed over time to harm larger swaths of the population and sway further away from the original stipulations. Just days after the ruling was released, groups have begun to exploit the religious liberty of corporations to discriminate, particularly against members of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queeer) community.
Even if these loopholes are not exploited in the name of further oppression of marginalized communities, this focus only on women’s reproductive health once again reminds us that our government would rather protect corporations than individuals, especially women, and that we have a long fight ahead to ensure full reproductive freedom and equality for all. Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President Rev. Peter Morales writes, “Though I am exceedingly disappointed in this ruling, I reaffirm the commitment of the UUA to work for reproductive justice in accordance with our first principle because ‘justice is what love looks like in public.’”
These points are a summary. Find the Unitarian Universalist Association's (UUA’s) tips for writing letters to the editor. Please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) if your letter was published!
Oral arguments were heard January 15. The decision was released June 26, 2014.
The Supreme Court of the United States ruled unanimously against buffer zone protections around women’s health clinics in Massachusetts. Patients, volunteers, and employees of women’s health clinics consistently report that their personal safety is threatened at clinics by the verbal attacks and physical proximity of anti-abortion protesters. By striking down the Massachusetts’ buffer zone law, the Supreme Court sets a concerning precedent that the rights, safety, and well-being of some is more important than those of others. The Supreme Court ruled against a 35-foot buffer zone, though they provided the space for Massachusetts to rewrite its law to protect women on health clinic’s private property.
The Little Sisters' request has been temporarily granted by the Supreme Court.
The Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged in Denver, Colorado brought a case against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) based on their wish to deny the no-cost birth-control policy to their employees. This case asks the Supreme Court if the free exercise rights of non-profit organizations that wish to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees, a pardon already granted by the ACA, are being infringed upon due to federal forms they must complete to withhold coverage. Check out these letters from Rev. Debra Haffner at the Religious Institute and from Rev. Rob Keithan at the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
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Last updated on Friday, July 11, 2014.
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