T his s ummer in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court ruled that closely-held corporations are not required to provide employees with insurance coverage for contraceptives if it violates the owners’ religious beliefs . This ruling, which partially struck down the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act , could lead to countless women losing coverage for birth control and other forms of reproductive care under their health insurance plans.
The Hobby Lobby decision is the most recent event in an ongoing epidemic of attacks on women’s reproductive rights and access to care. And the laws aren’t always as obvious in their anti-women sentiment as one might think.
Although abortion is legal under Roe v. Wade , states like Texas find ways around the law by setting standards for clinics that are normally reserved for surgical centers — like having hallways wide enough for two gurneys . While these standards are unnecessary for clinics to safely perform their services, their imposition is so costly to women’s health centers that many cannot afford to comply. According to a report by the Guttmacher Institute, as of Oct. 15, 2014, “Twenty-five states have laws or policies that regulate abortion providers and go beyond what is necessary to ensure patients’ safety; all apply to clinics that perform surgical abortion.”
Over the summer, 13 Texas clinics were forced to close because of these restrictive standards . The Supreme Court ruled last Tuesday that these clinics could reopen and operate while the laws are appealed . However, many of the clinics have remained closed because they don’t currently have leases or licenses . Right now in Texas, whose population is 26 million , there are just eight clinics that can perform abortions .
What many opponents of full reproductive rights don’t seem to understand is that closing clinics around the country is doing much more than preventing access to abortion services and isn’t stopping women from seeking abortions . Clinics like Planned Parenthood offer additional crucial services for women and men, including mammograms, STD testing and treatment and prenatal care . In fact, Planned Parenthood cites abortions as just 3 percent of all its services rendered.
The attack on women in America needs to end. Despite being one of the most developed and influential countries in the world, we are decades behind many other countries when it comes to reproductive rights. While European countries provide free access to contraceptives and encourage comprehensive sex education, in America, women’s health care autonomy is limited by the religious and moral views of others.
This issue is not only national, but also personal . College students account for nearly half of new cases of sexually transmitted diseases each year . In the United States , 34 percent of abortions are performed on women ages 20 to 24 . One in four women will be victims of sexual assault during their college years . We need unrestricted access to the services that women’s health clinics provide. We need it for ourselves, our partners and our friends. These are not privileges — these are rights that every American woman deserves.
So how, you might ask, can you change the political climate, making it more favorable for women’s bodies? We offer you the same answer we do every week: vote.
Governor Tom Corbett supports the Women’s Right to Know Act, which requires women seeking abortions to get an ultrasound, be offered two copies of that ultrasound and listen to the fetal heartbeat . If a woman does not want to see the ultrasound? Corbett suggests, just “close your eyes.” In addition, Pennsylvania is one of the states, like Texas, with restrictive measures that could potentially require clinics to close.
Tom Wolf , the Democratic candidate for governor who has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood , supports reproductive rights for women. He has promised he will not sign the current bill creating new unnecessary standards for health clinics. He has said that he will fight to expand healthcare coverage, ensuring that women do not have a co-pay for birth control, and that women are not penalized for “pre-existing conditions” including domestic violence and breast cancer. There is no gray area; if Pennsylvania women are to have full, unrestricted reproductive rights, we must elect Tom Wolf.
Penn Democrats is a student-run political organization dedicated to promoting progressive political values on and off campus through dialogue and action. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Comments powered by Disqus
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