After Hobby Lobby decision, both sides jockey for position, money


Anti-abortion demonstrators cheer as the ruling for Hobby Lobby was announced outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington June 30, 2014. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that business owners can object on religious grounds to a provision of U.S. President Barack Obama’s healthcare law that requires closely held companies to provide health insurance that covers birth control. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Remember in 2012 when Mitt Romney got a question about birth control in a presidential debate and eventually released a campaign commercial about abortion and contraception?

Well, the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case might make it feel like 2012 all over again, when birth control was, to the surprise of some, part of political discussions. The fierce birth control fight that is ahead was very much evident on the steps of the Supreme Court after it handed  down a 5 to 4 ruling that recognizes the religious rights of certain closely held corporations to refuse to cover birth control for female employees.

With women central to the fortunes of both parties in November, the decision was hailed by conservatives as a victory for religious freedom, and criticized by liberals as yet another attack in the war on women. For both sides, the decision will be used to ignite passions and, more importantly, action, in their respective bases, because the decision resonates viscerally with large groups of people on a very basic level.

Most people have a stance on birth control and on religion and whether they have anything to do with each other. The issue will be used to fill campaign coffers, particular among outside, special interest groups that are already flooding states with ads.  And candidates, seeking to gain an edge with women voters, will try to replay 2012.

The National Organization for Women (NOW) sent out an e-mail blast to supporters, urging them to donate money and announcing plans to go “all out this year to educate and mobilize voters, tell them where the candidates stand, and make sure these voters get to the polls on Election Day.”

If you thought the war on women is only being waged in Congress and state legislatures, guess again. Led by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court has waded into the fray, hammering women’s access to birth control.

You read that right — birth control.

By siding with Hobby Lobby in its crusade against contraception, the Court has leant its weight to the Radical Right’s War on Women.  But NOW is fighting back!

In Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, the court voted to allow corporations, in the name of religious “beliefs,” to strip contraception from their employer-based health plans. This outrageous decision must not be allowed to stand.

And EMILY’S List sent out a similar plea, calling the decision a “devastating setback, ” and encouraging supporters to send money “to stop Republicans from rallying around this decision to continue their attacks on women’s access to health care.”

For those on the right, particularly abortion opponents and evangelicals, the decision represents a clear victory in the ongoing culture wars that have increasingly favored liberals.

“This is a great victory for religious liberty – the bedrock of our founding. In living out our religious convictions, there are certain things we must not do. This is why we are at a watershed moment. Religious people will no longer be ordered to take action that our religion says we must not take,”  said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Americans of faith and conscience have been vindicated, and this will be a galvanizing moment for the vast majority of citizens who vehemently objected to this mandate and the elected leaders who thrust it upon us.”

The SBA, which seeks to elect pro-life women and candidates who will ultimately end abortion, is a player in the 2014 cycle, recently launching an ad in North Carolina against Sen. Kay Hagan (D), who is pro-choice.  The group was among 50 antiabortion groups that filed an amicus brief in the case.

Planned Parenthood is also expected to be a big player in the mid-terms, with a particular focus on North Carolina.

The group blasted the court’s decision, calling it a “stunning ruling,” based on the CEO’s personal objections.

“It’s unbelievable that in 2014, we’re still fighting about whether women should have access to birth control. Some politicians want to get rid of the birth control benefit entirely and take away coverage from millions of women. To the majority of Americans, birth control is not a controversial issue. Birth control is basic health care – and it’s only a ‘social issue’ if you’ve never had to pay for it,” said from Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “We hope most businesses will do the right thing and let women make their own health care decisions. We urge Congress to act and protect women’s access to birth control, regardless of the personal views of their employer.”

Nia-Malika Henderson is a political reporter for The Fix.
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