Yesterday, one week before the U.S. Supreme Court hears two cases centered on women’s birth control coverage in their employee health insurance as mandated by the Affordable Care Act, 45 religious leaders released a joint statement supporting universal access to contraception.
Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Unitarian Universalist leaders of faith stated that equal access to contraceptives through insurance coverage, in their opinion, is a moral good.
“As religious leaders, we support universal access to contraception. We believe that all persons should be free to make personal decisions about their reproductive lives, their health and the health of their families that are informed by their culture, faith tradition, religious beliefs, conscience, and community. We affirm, in accordance with each of our faith traditions, that ensuring equal access to contraceptives through insurance coverage is a moral good...”
“…We support religious freedom. Religious freedom means that each individual has the right to exercise their own beliefs and the right not to have others’ beliefs forced upon them. We believe no employer has the right to deny the women who work for them basic health care. Individuals must have the right to accept or reject the principles of their own faith without legal restrictions.”
Next week the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will hear arguments in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases. Both cases challenge the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act. Some refer to this healthcare plan as Obamacare.
These cases have been referred to as the Citizens United redux, due to their potential impact on the question of corporate personhood and the emerging concept of corporate religion.
Hobby Lobby, a national chain of craft stores, and Conestoga Wood, a Pennsylvania cabinet manufacturer, have sued for exemptions from the contraception mandate, arguing the new healthcare law violates the religious liberty of the corporations.
The Citizens United ruling established that corporations are people. The cases brought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood will determine if corporations can be people of faith.
Reverend Debra W. Haffner, President of the Religious Institute, coordinator of the endorsement statement said,
“It is a myth that people of faith don’t support family planning. Most Jewish movement and Protestant denominations have had policies supporting family planning for decades. It is precisely because as faith leaders we know that life is sacred, that we believe that every woman must be able to plan her pregnancies intentionally without governmental interference and without her employer in her bedroom. The theological diversity of those who endorsed today’s statement is further evidence of widespread faith support for birth control coverage. We pray the U.S. Supreme Court is listening.”
The full text of the statement can be found at www.religiousinstitute.org/faithleaders4bc