Clarke says health care choices for women are now limited
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Members of Brooklyn congressional delegation had strong, and negative, reactions to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Monday in the so-called Hobby Lobby case.
In a 5-4 decision, the nation’s highest court ruled that the owners of Hobby Lobby, a chain of crafts stores, are not required to provide health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for their employees to cover certain types of contraceptives that the owners believe violate their deeply held religious principles. Hobby Lobby and another company, Conestoga Wood, filed suit against the Obama Administration.
In its decision, the court stated that the ruling and its religious exemption from the ACA applies only to closely held companies, defined as businesses in which more than 50 of the company is owned either by an individual or by a family.
The court’s decision has been hailed by many, including conservatives and religious organizations, as a victory for religious freedom in America.
But Obama Administration supporters said the ruling will have harsh consequences for women.
U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brownsville-Crown Heights) was one of 93 House members who filed an amicus brief in the case, siding with the Obama Administration.
“The establishment of an exemption for reproductive health care threatens the entire Affordable Care Act, for the owners of other companies could choose not to provide coverage for vaccinations or blood transfusions because those practices are contrary to their religious beliefs,” Clarke warned. “When Congress enacted the Affordable Care Act, we wanted to allow Americans the opportunities to choose the best health care for themselves and their families. Today, the Supreme Court has limited the health care choices of millions of women."
The New York Times reported on Monday that the 5-4 ruling opened the door to other lawsuits from business owners citing violations of their religious rights.
U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Brooklyn-Manhattan), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, called the ruling a defeat for women.
“Bosses should not be able to make health care decisions about the reproductive choices of their employees. No matter how sincerely held a religious belief might be, for-profit employers – like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood – should not be allowed to wield their beliefs as a means of denying employees access to critical preventive health care services. Ninety-nine percent of all American women use birth control at some point in our lives. Their interests cannot be ignored and must not be cast aside,” said Nadler, who spoke out on Monday after the court ruling was announced.
Nadler’s district includes parts of Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst.
“Today’s ruling will unfortunately mean that for-profit companies will be free to impose their beliefs on others, their employees and patrons, who may not share their beliefs and who will be harmed as result,” Nadler said.
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Brooklyn-Manhattan), who called the decision “deeply flawed,” said that millions of women will now be forced to pay out of pocket for their own contraception.
“The Supreme Court just put employers in between a woman and her doctor. The conservative members of the Court have declared that employers at closely held corporations may impose their own religious views on the health care choices of employees and restrict a person’s medical insurance coverage so that it doesn’t offend the boss’s personal beliefs. To that message they attached an annual bill for $269—the average increase in out-of-pocket costs for contraception that millions of women may face as a result of this deeply flawed decision," said Maloney, whose district includes Greenpoint.