It’s time to resurrect the ERA. Are you old enough to remember the unsuccessful push to pass the Equal Rights Amendment in the Seventies and Eighties? I was young and idealistic in those days and fervently supported passage of the amendment to the US Constitution. Looking back, I realize that sporting shorts with “ERA NOW” plastered across my butt was probably not the best way to promote the cause.
Yet Monday’s Supreme Court decision in favor of Hobby Lobby has convinced me that it’s time to enshrine women’s rights in the Constitution. The Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby is within its rights to object to providing some aspects of the contraceptive coverage provision in its company health plan on religious grounds. Mind you, Hobby Lobby was not being required to hand out the so-called “morning after pill” to employees. They were simply being required to provide health care coverage with which their employees could make their own PERSONAL health care decisions.
Conservatives are trying to downplay the implications of the decision by emphasizing that it was a narrow ruling that only covered certain types of businesses and certain types of birth control. Yet such decisions are a slippery slope. Catholic hospitals are already allowed to refuse to perform sterilization procedures such as tubal ligations. Will this new ruling allow them to prevent their employees from seeking such procedures at all? What about a mom and pop drug store in a small town? Will women be prevented from buying contraceptives there because of the owners’ religious objections?
There is always a balance to be struck between individuals’ competing rights. I would never want to require a Catholic doctor to perform an abortion, for example. But there is a huge difference between promoting something to which one has religious objections and allowing others to make that decision for themselves.
In the case of Hobby Lobby, there is also the hypocrisy factor. If the owners are so adamantly opposed to such contraceptives as Plan B and IUDs, they should not invest in pharmaceutical companies that manufacture said drugs and devices. (Source: Huffington Post)
The gains women have made in the past 40 years have been due in large part to their ability to control reproduction. The advent of reliable contraception coincided with the huge influx of women into the work force in the 1970s. The advancement of women’s causes has made our nation stronger.
It’s time to pass an amendment to the Constitution to protect women’s rights and advancements. ERA NOW! (This time I’ll get a t-shirt.)