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The U.S. Supreme Court wrapped up its term with a bang today, issuing two major decisions.
In one case, the court ruled that closely-held corporations, usually family-owned businesses like Hobby Lobby — the national arts and crafts chain that brought the suit — cannot be required to provide coverage for birth control methods that they object to for religious reasons.
Here & Now gets reaction from both sides of that case: Luke Goodrich was part of the team that argued Hobby Lobby’s case, and Judy Waxman is with the National Women’s Law Center.
ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:
Now let's bring in Judy Waxman, Vice President for Health and Reproductive Rights at the National Women's Law Center, which is dedicated to advancing women's equality and opportunity. Your reaction to the court's decision.
JUDY WAXMAN: We are concerned that the Supreme Court today decided that some bosses can take away insurance coverage of birth control for their employees. I mean, we're talking about birth control here where 99 percent of women in this country use birth control at some point in their life. And it's often not cheap. $50 a month, even, for basic pills. This is a serious blow to women.
YOUNG: Of course this doesn't mean - and we just want to repeat that this decision did not cover basic pills. It just covered the things that these companies were objecting to, which are emergency contraception, like the IUD. But the IUD is very expensive.
WAXMAN: It is. It could be a thousand dollars, but I would beg to differ with you. The court talked about contraception and we think that means a company can say, my religion trumps your religion employees. I believe in religious liberty, not for you. And therefore, I can deny you coverage of any contraception.
YOUNG: So you don't think this was a narrow decision regarding the emergency contraception these companies objected to.
WAXMAN: Absolutely not. Not only that, but while this decision talks about employers using their religious beliefs to trump all contraception, I do believe as Justice Ginsburg in her dissent - they had opened the door to many, many other kinds of religious groups claiming, they don't want to cover immunizations, or blood transfusions, or mental health services. The door's now wide open for corporations to say, my religious belief trumps your religious belief, and I win.
YOUNG: Well, what about the court urging the Obama administration to find another way to pay for this emergency contraception. They weren't saying, outlaw it. They were saying have insurance companies - other outside insurance companies pay for it.
WAXMAN: Well, first of all, we object to the idea that contraception - and I want to say again that 99 percent of women in this country use contraception - we object to the idea that contraception should be in some special category by itself. The system they are talking about is relatively new, it's jury-rigged, we don't know how it works really. And I would also like to point out that there are many people that want to throw sand in the gears at that kind of jury-rigged system. Basically, birth control is a basic health service that almost all women in this country use for health care, and it is important that it be covered like every other service.
YOUNG: Judy Waxman, of the National Women's Law Center, who sees today's decision as a slippery slope. Judy, thanks so much.
WAXMAN: You're welcome, Jeremy. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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