Is It Fair to Allow Religious Institutions to Deny Birth Control in Their Employees’ Health Plans?

By Naya Kurdy

Damascus, Syria

The decision is a major setback in the evolution of human rights (Photo Credit: CNBC)

The debate over whether it is fair to allow religious institutions to deny birth control in employees’ health plans has resurfaced recently after a decision in U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s requirement that employers cover all FDA-approved forms of contraception violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA). 


This decision sets a dangerous precedent by allowing bosses to discriminate against employees’ health care coverage based solely on personal religious views. 


Having a nation’s highest court allow discrimination against minorities is a major setback in the evolution of human rights and an insult to a core American value: freedom. 


A decision that enforces discrimination on minorities can only be the result of severe entitlement issues and an incapacity to grapple with the fact that while everyone is entitled to one’s opinion, one should not have the right to force one’s ideas and beliefs onto others. 


The federal government has estimated that up to 126,000 women could lose contraception coverage through their employer-provided health insurance; that means that employers get to decide the fate of 126,000 women based on their religious beliefs. If that is not discrimination, I don’t know what is.


This barrier to birth control access jeopardizes the rights, health and livelihoods of the people hit the hardest by the public health and unemployment crisis: women––especially women of color. Taking away women’s ability to choose if and when to have children and threatening their financial security is dehumanizing.


White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who called the ruling a big win for religious freedom and freedom of conscience, said, “Ensuring that women receive the healthcare they need does not require banishing religious groups that refuse to surrender their beliefs from the public square." The word “freedom” is tossed around a lot in the first statement, which is true if you only care about employers’ freedom. In the 21st century, we ought to treat employers and employees equally.


Unfortunately, women are still fighting for control over their own bodies. And unfortunately, fair or not, the decision has already been made. All we can do now is fight for the rights we still have and hope that employers have the decency to give their employees freedom regardless of their personal views.

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