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Hobby Lobby decision violates women’s rights

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To The Editor:

The Supreme Court issued a ruling that will take birth control out of the hands of north country women who need it. Their decision gives employers the power to deny women the new birth control benefits of the Affordable Care Act, allowing bosses to force their personal beliefs on employees.

This comes just days after another blow to women’s health and rights. A Supreme Court ruling June 26 struck down a Massachusetts law requiring protestors to stand at least 35 feet away from health centers, giving radical anti-women’s health activists a green light to stand between patients and doctors.

It is unbelievable that in 2014 we are still fighting about women’s access to basic health care like birth control.

The five justices who ruled against women are out of step with most Americans. The public overwhelmingly supports the birth control benefit by a nearly two-to-one margin. Justice Ginsburg spoke for us in her powerful dissent when she said, “[The court’s decision] would deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage.”

To the five members of the Supreme Court who have given bosses — based on their own personal beliefs — the power to deny women coverage for birth control: I dissent.

This ruling is an insult to the generations of north country women who have fought for control over their own bodies and their own futures. It is a step backward, and a threat to the future of women’s health and rights in America.

Employers like Hobby Lobby believe that their personal beliefs are more important than women’s fundamental rights.

Religious freedom means that every person should be allowed to follow her own conscience, whether she owns a company or works for an hourly wage. Women earn health care coverage the same way they earn every paycheck — and they shouldn’t have it taken away because of the personal views of their employers.

Some politicians support the Supreme Court’s decision — and want to go even further to deny more women access to birth control.

I will continue to fight for the right of every north country woman to make her own private medical decisions without interference from anyone — not her boss, not politicians, not the Supreme Court. I call on lawmakers at every level to take immediate action to protect women’s access to health care no matter what their bosses say.

This is about our health and our lives. This is about our fundamental right to have control over our own bodies. This is about justice. And I’m not done fighting back.

Tess Barker

President and CEO

Planned Parenthood of the North Country

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