On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that I can’t keep quiet on. I’ve always believed that women should have the autonomy to make our own choices and blaze our own trails.
In the 1970s, I took part in a demonstration in Central Park during the height of the women's liberation movement. I’d like to think we’ve come a long way since then, but this week’s decision from the Supreme Court sends the clear message that too many employers and Supreme Court Justices still regard women as second-class citizens.
With one ruling handed down this week, five men in black robes decided that we should return to policies of the 1950s and ask our bosses’ permission to receive basic preventive health care. These are five men who have never had to worry about how they’d pay for birth control, deal with an unplanned pregnancy, or face going to work with crippling migraines and premenstrual pain.
Women throughout America know that birth control is an important factor in allowing us to contribute to the workforce, determine our own destiny, and guarantee our economic independence.
Because of birth control, a woman can stay in school and earn her degree. Because of birth control, a hard-working woman can go out on a limb and live her dreams of being a musician, or she can plan her family in a way that allows her to have the career she wants while also providing a loving and safe home for her children.
It doesn’t matter what women choose to do with the opportunities provided by birth control—what matters is that women are allowed to make these choices for ourselves. That’s why 99 percent of sexually active women in this country have used birth control at some point in their lives.
Yet here we are in 2014, still arguing over our right to have access to this important preventive care. Meanwhile, the same companies fighting to take it away, including Hobby Lobby, continue to cover Viagra and vasectomies for their male employees.
The decision handed down this week makes clear that this isn’t an argument about religious liberties. Rather, it is a rejection of women’s rights across the board, hidden within an argument that our most basic health care is “controversial.” The subject of birth control should be far from controversial. To many women, the only thing controversial about it is that we are still fighting this battle.
Incredibly brave and smart women paved the way for me to have a career. They fought for my basic rights and helped advance women throughout America. Without their hard work and dedication to women, I would not be where I am today and would not have access to preventive care that many of us take for granted.
I’m standing with women across the country to fight back against discrimination, and I urge you to join me. Planned Parenthood, of whom I am a staunch supporter and a firm believer, has created an opportunity for men and women across the country to join Justice Ginsburg’s dissent. I’ve signed my name, and I strongly encourage you to join me by visiting PlannedParenthoodActionFund.org.
Now is the time to let our collective voices be heard. Women are watching, and we will take action to ensure this backwards decision doesn’t become the status quo.