Yesterday the members of the U.S Senate had the opportunity to reverse the unfortunate Hobby Lobby decision by voting to pass the Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act aka the “Not My Boss’ Business” Act. The Supreme Court’s decision was bad news for women’s health and rights and this Act was a hopeful solution to keep for-profit businesses from interfering with personal patient matters. Sadly, the Republican Senators blocked the vote from advancing. For the record, Wisconsin State Senator Tammy Baldwin voted to advance the bill and Wisconsin State Senator Ron Johnson voted to block its advancement.
Here’s a quick recap. The Supreme Court decided to excuse Hobby Lobby and other closely-held company bosses from covering birth control for their employees because of personal religious viewpoints, which is scary for numerous reasons. For one, having access to contraceptives empowers women. It’s a woman’s right to decide when, where, and with whom she starts her family. She has the right to plan her family, pursue her education, and achieve her career goals on her own terms (just like any man… or male Supreme Court Justice). In addition, birth control is a basic freedom. It’s a main reason why women now make up half the nation’s workforce, and why 40% of women are lead income earners for families. Act author Senator Patty Murray said it best: “When women call the shots, women and families win.” Birth control even saves employers money due to high costs of pregnancy and loss of productivity. But, this issue goes far beyond contraception. It’s discrimination, and yes Hobby Lobby bosses, even violates religious freedom.
Because of the damage the Hobby Lobby decision did, women across the country were watching the Senate vote very closely yesterday. While the Senate did not pass the bill, it’s important that a vote was taken and that this issue has become part of a national dialogue.
While this fix to the Supreme Court decision did not advance yesterday, it’s important to keep talking about this issue and to spread the word about Not My Boss’ Business. 99% of women will use birth control at one point in their lives and we know birth control coverage is widely support. So talk to your neighbors, your friends, your doctors, and even your hairdresser about how out of touch some of our elected leaders are. And once you’ve had that “Did You Know?” conversation, be sure to make sure the people you’re talking to are registered to vote. Elections matter and they are unique opportunities to make sure those that represent us represent our needs and values.