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U.S. Supreme Court ruling could end with major consequences for women

Women gathered today outside of the U.S. Supreme Court to protest hearings of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius. The two cases threaten women's right to free and accessible healthcare coverage.
Women gathered today outside of the U.S. Supreme Court to protest hearings of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius. The two cases threaten women's right to free and accessible healthcare coverage. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Once again, women’s reproductive rights were under attack today as the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments against forcing employers to cover contraceptives for their employees. Under the Affordable Care Act, many employers are now required to provide full coverage of contraceptives for their female employees, including hormonal pills and rings, implanted devices, and emergency contraceptives.

Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, both owned by religious families, were the two corporations arguing against the legislation as the Court reviewed Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius. The corporations are arguing that the provision under the Affordable Care Act interferes with their right to religious freedom, specifically comparing the coverage of emergency contraceptives to funding abortion. On the other side, the government argues that the law protects women's right to affordable healthcare, regardless of their employer's beliefs.

This begs the question "Who has the right?" Should corporations be given the right, like individuals, to practice religion freely? Or, should women be given the right to free and accessible healthcare?

This is not the first time that women's rights have been pitted against the rights of others. During many cases involving women's reproductive rights, the argument for personhood has been presented. In debates over abortion, many anti-abortionists argue that the fetus should be given personhood, granting the person the right to life under the law. In other cases, such as the ones presented during today's hearing, corporations argue for personhood under the law so that they can practice the right to religious freedom and free speech. While these groups fight for personhood, they attempt to take away the rights that have already been granted to individual women.

While a decision by the Court has not yet been reached, the decision could set a dangerous precedent favoring corporate personhood over the rights of citizens to receive affordable healthcare if the Court rules against the government.