❝A rapid increase in the number of U.S. women turning to intrauterine devices to prevent pregnancy has prompted escalating attacks on the birth control method from groups that oppose abortion.
The next battle will be at the U.S. Supreme Court, which has agreed to consider a new religious challenge to contraceptives coverage under President Obama’s healthcare law. Although the case deals broadly with whether religiously affiliated groups should be exempt from providing birth control coverage to their employees, some parties in the case have focused specifically on IUDs…
Here’s the religious rationale:
❝“IUDs are a life-ending device,” said Mailee Smith, staff counsel for the Americans United for Life, which filed an amicus brief in support of the challenge before the high court. “The focus of these cases is that requiring any life-ending drug is in violation of the Religious Freedom Act.”
❝IUD use among U.S. women using contraceptives grew to 10.3 percent in 2012 from 2 percent in 2002, according to the Guttmacher Institute, making them the fastest growing birth-control method. Their popularity has grown as women recognized that newer versions of the device don’t carry the same safety risks as a 1970s-era IUD known as the Dalkon Shield.
Now more than 10 percent of U.S. women using contraceptives use IUDs. Other forms of birth control, such as daily pills, are on the decline…
❝Planned Parenthood, long a target from religious groups for providing access to abortions, has also become a significant source of the devices, with IUD use by its patients up 57 percent between 2009 and 2013.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration created an exemption for houses of worship and some related organizations that object to funding birth control for employees, but now other types of religiously affiliated groups want similar waivers.
The consequences of Obama’s wavering over separation of church and state:
❝In 2014, the Supreme Court accepted the position of Hobby Lobby, a chain of craft stores owned by religious Christians, ruling that private companies that are closely-controlled could opt out of contraception coverage based on the owners’ beliefs.
Hobby Lobby, among other things, objected to birth control that could prevent “an embryo from implanting in the womb,” including two types of IUDs…
The current high court case consolidates seven lawsuits filed by nonprofit groups with religious affiliations, such as colleges and retirement homes run by nuns. The ruling could be applied to more than 100 similar lawsuits, potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of women, according to lawyers on both sides of the issue. Little Sisters of the Poor, one of the plaintiffs, has for example more than 2,000 employees.
We’re talking about unintended consequences. Obama included a perfectly reasonable opt-out for True Believers. But, the dog-in-the-manger politics of folks like Hobby Lobby extends to keeping employees from having any rights at all. Unless we have an executive branch that fights for separation of church and state, a Supreme Court steered by reactionaries can behave just as consistently backwards as Congress.
Having only two classes of politicians – conservatives and cowards – doesn’t help along progress for ordinary working families.