Rep. Maloney: failure to uphold ACA birth control protections would hurt millions of women

Mar 25, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) today issued the following statement on the Supreme Court’s hearing of oral arguments on Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius.

“A woman’s health and life decisions should not be restricted by her employer’s personal beliefs. If the U.S. Supreme Court does not uphold the Affordable Care Act’s birth control protections, millions of women could find themselves without access to critically important health services just because such services personally offend their bosses. This would be a major setback for women’s rights, effectively creating different classes of citizens based on a woman’s employer.

“With 99 percent of women having used birth control at some point, the objections brought by these cases dismiss the overwhelming consensus from medical and scientific communities that such access is important preventive medical care. The Affordable Care Act provides full access coverage without a copay for preventive health care, including contraceptive methods. These cases demonstrate that without laws to protect health equity, discrimination could once again return to the health coverage market.

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in this case could have implications that extend far beyond access to contraception. A for-profit corporation should not be allowed to violate the law simply because its CEO has a religious-based objection.  For example, a CEO might justify not hiring a person based on sexual orientation. And in the past, some businesses have even argued that basic labor protections like the minimum wage and overtime laws violate their religious beliefs. In the 1980s a school, Fremont Christian, argued unsuccessfully that it was not required to provide health insurance at all to married women because their husbands, as head of the household, were solely responsible for providing for the household.  This case could bring us back to that kind of discrimination.

“Ordinarily, owners cannot pierce the corporate veil and merge their personal interests with that of the corporation without jeopardizing the limitations on their liability for the corporation’s actions. It makes no sense to suggest that this rule does not apply in a religious context.

“The outcome in this case will affect the lives of countless women throughout America who depend on affordable access to contraception for birth control and for other medical reasons. I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will uphold past precedent and make the right decision.”