Skip to content

Our Bodies, Our Bosses

March 21, 2014

Remember Our Bodies, Ourselves, the classic book about women’s health and reproduction?  Its title is a simple statement of principle. Yet on 25 March, the Supreme Court begins hearing oral arguments in two cases, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, in each of which employers at for-profit corporations want to deny their employees the right to receive insurance coverage for the costs of birth control, based on the bosses’ personal beliefs.

Birth control is tremendously important to women for all kinds of reasons.  Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) women have access to this important preventive care at no cost. Washington University’s Contraceptive CHOICE Study demonstrated that when women get access to the birth control method of their choice with no financial barrier, there is a significant drop in unintended pregnancy and abortion rates. In addition, nearly 60 percent of women who use the birth control pill use it for medical reasons, such as management of endometriosis and painful menstrual periods. From every angle, no-copay birth control is smart policy.

ImageThat is why so much is at stake in these cases, which could create a slippery slope, giving for-profit employers the right to use religion to justify interfering with their employees’ own medical preferences.  If corporations get the right to discriminate and deny health care coverage, it would harm millions of people.

Imagine a world where your boss is legally empowered to deny coverage for mental health care or vaccinations because his religion doesn’t approve of it, or where a bank can refuse to approve a loan for a single mother because she doesn’t fit the bank owner’s personal definition of “head of household,” or where a person with HIV can be denied a job at a restaurant chain because the owner of the company has made a moral judgment about how he contracted the virus.

Most people don’t want corporations discriminating or denying health care coverage, and that’s what this case is about.  In an NBC/Wall St Journal poll earlier this month, a clear majority opposed employers’ rights to opt out of the health mandate. And a group of 45 religious leaders have signed a letter declaring support of birth control coverage, pointing out that the two for-profit companies challenging the ACA’s no-copay birth control provisions don’t speak for all people of faith. Although Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood are arguing that extending birth control coverage to workers is a violation of their religious liberty, the letter’s signatories point out that isn’t how that concept has traditionally been defined.

The faith leaders say:

“Religious freedom means that each individual has the right to exercise their own beliefs and the right not to have others’ beliefs forced upon them. No single religious voice can speak for all faith traditions on contraception, nor should government take sides on religious differences. We call on our government to respect the beliefs and values of everyone’s faith by safeguarding equal access to contraception for those whose conscience leads them to use it.”

This is not a conversation about religion.  Nor is it about a business agenda.  It’s an extreme social agenda.  Bottom line: the choice about whether to use birth control should be between a woman and her doctor — and no employer should be able to interfere with that right.


CPAC, The Affordable Care Act, Bossy, and Bosses. What we’ve been reading and watching this week.

March 14, 2014

RH Reality Check did a great job covering womenreproductive rights, abortion, the war on women, and the politicians who want to make our reproductive health care decisions for us at CPAC (The Conservative Political Action Conference that ran March 6 – 10).  Far and away, my favorite was Emily Crockett’s look at the CPAC hook up culture.

How many women are benefitting from the Affordable Care Act? Lots.  And, thanks to Obamacare, uninsured rate has dropped.

In this hilarious episode of Zach Galifianakis’ intentionally awkward show Between Two Ferns, the comedian interviews President Barack Obama, hitting on the important issues of same-sex marriage, health-care coverage, and the website.

In a dramatic town council meeting, efforts to place stricter conditions on abortion clinics was defeated in Manassas, Virginia

Melissa Harris Perry discusses the politics, jobs, and motherhood in the US.


Thought Catalog interviews an abortion provider about what her job is like and why she does it.

The last abortion clinic in Rio Grande Valley has closed: We Won’t Forget.

A Pennsylvaina mother could go to jail for helping her daughter have an abortion—the consequences of having increasingly restrictive abortion rights in the US

New York City has new Trans-Inclusive Student Policies

Ban “Bossy”—encourage girls to lead.

The Daily Show’s Samantha Bee discovers that Medicare benefits include federally funded Penis Pumps! Where is the congressional debate about that?! Apparently only certain forms of sexual health care are unnecessary (aka, women’s sexual health care)

Study shows that free birth control does not cause promiscuity…well, we could have told you that.  And, the same goes for no-co-pay bc too.  Remember, no co-pay birth control is not “free”—it is included in the premium paid for the insurance coverage.

Here’s the bottom line: Health care decisions belong to us, not our bosses. On March 25th Planned Parenthood and its allies will be gathering at the Supreme Court to stand strong in support of women’s access to affordable birth control—and against the bosses who think they have a right to interfere in their employees’ personal decisions. You can be there…add your name to the banner.

In Like a Lion…

March 7, 2014

This week March (Women’s History Month) came roaring in with the Academy Awards, and some big political announcements here in New York. Here’s what we were reading (and doing) this week:

Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett used her acceptance speech to send a message about gender equality.

State Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) and Assembly member Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) introduced the “Boss Bill,” to protect New Yorkers from increased efforts by politicians and corporations to use religious objections to discriminate against and deny health care to large numbers of Americans.

In three weeks, SCOTUS will hear oral arguments in the Hobby Lobby case (a challenge to the birth control benefit, brought forward by the boss at a for-profit corporation who wants to impose his personal beliefs on employees.) At PPHPActivist, we are tweeting about what good bosses do (and don’t) #GoodBossesDont.  For sure, they don’t control women’s sex lives

Arizona pushes bill that would allow surprise inspections of abortion clinics

Birth justice and abortion access come together in this awesome clinic in Buffalo, New York.

It’s time to rethink Black History Month—lost acknowledgement of Black women and the current concerns of all Black Americans

“I, Too, Am Harvard”—a group of black students at Harvard are speaking out against the racism they experience in a photo project on Tumblr.

Upskirt Pics are totally legal in Massachusetts … at least this week.  The state legislature is already working to change that.

Jared Leto wins Oscar for his role as a transgender woman…and doesn’t mention trans people in his acceptance speech.

Saturday is International Women’s Day.  In preparation for setting new global development goals, the United Nations has put a call out to people around the world asking us to define the “World We Want” by completing an online survey and using the hashtag #WorldWeWant on social media. Follow us at PPHPActivist where we’ll be tweeting about #WorldWeWant throughout the day tomorrow.

In case you missed it:  Planned Parenthood Action Fund has launched it Women Are Watching 2014.  The big thing we are watching here in New York… #NoAstorino We are watching because our rights aren’t negotiable and our health care isn’t a political bargaining chip. We are fighting back. And we will win. Join us here, in Texas, and everywhere that politician’s are attacking women’s health


Rob Astorino Is Wrong for New York Women and Families

March 6, 2014

By now, you must have heard the news that Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has announced he is running for Governor of New York.  In case you missed it, check out this video at the Politics on the Hudson blog.  

The PPHP Action Fund is among the organizations dedicated to educating New Yorker’s about Astorino’s abysmal record on women’s health.  We deserve a Governor who cares about the needs of women and families.  He’s not it.  Here is the statement that PPHP Action Fund President/CEO Reina Schiffrin released in response to the video announcement yesterday: 

“Rob Astorino says he’s gotten Westchester on a winning path.  I don’t call his actions as County Executive winning for women and families. He ended a cost-effective, comprehensive sexual education program for teens and he vetoed legislation that would have ensured patients could avoid harassment when entering reproductive health facilities.  Rob Astorino is bad for women, bad for families, bad for New York.’

‘Rob Astorino talks about New Yorkers leaving the state to go to Alabama, Texas, and North Dakota. Since the day he took office as Westchester County Executive, he has taken every chance he could to roll back access to reproductive health services and information.  Apparently he takes his cues from politicians in places like Texas and North Dakota, putting ideology ahead of the commonsense health care needs of the people of Westchester.  What will he do if he becomes governor?”  

All the news that’s fit to blog

February 28, 2014

What Happened This Week?

February 21, 2014

A lot!

Assemblyman Buchwald DMV Press Conference

Snowed in? Here’s what you missed while you were shoveling.

February 14, 2014