"This is the scariest thing the Court has ever done,” emailed a friend to me yesterday. Understandably, women’s hearts are beating fast and our heads are spinning with confusion due to uproars declaring a heightened “war on women” in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Sebelius v. Hobby LobbyStores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius decisions.
The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold citizens’ First Amendment right to live and work according to our moral convictions should not scare women. What should frighten us is the deceptive and potentially harmful misinformation so-called “progressive” voices within pro-abortion lobby groups, mainstream media, and, most disappointingly, from some within the Church are feeding us.
Lending to the “war on women” outcry yesterday was Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. According to Huffington Post, Richards stated, “Today, the Supreme Court ruled against American women and families giving bosses the right to discriminate against women and deny their employees access to birth control coverage.”
First, let us quickly debunk Richards’ misleading sentiments by clarifying that women are not denied access to birth control coverage. In fact, Hobby Lobby and Constenaga wood are willing to provide 16 out of the 20 forms of contraception dictated by the Obama Administration’s invasive Health and Human Services mandate. The point of contention arose when the Southern Baptist Green family and Mennonite Wood family declined to pay for abortion-inducing emergency contraception, including Plan B, Plan B One-Step, Next Choice, and Ella.
Just to prove that the Supreme Court decision did nothing to limit women from accessing these four abortifacients, this morning I visited my local CVS pharmacy. Walking straight back to the pharmacy I simply asked, “Do you sell Plan B?” The young female attendant said, “No, but we have the generic version Next Choice.” The cost of came to about a little over $40.00.
I declined to finalize the sale, but did notice that there were no conservative evangelicals or conservative politicians forbidding me—a 26 year-old woman—from accessing these abortion-inducing drugs. Am I really supposed to believe that my health is at risk because my boss will not pay for it?
Second, and most importantly, Richards ignores that women actually won yesterday. Although opponents of the court’s ruling are directing women by focusing on a “personhood of corporations” argument, it is vital to remember that behind the Christian family-run business Hobby Lobby and Conestoga are women. Namely, Barbara Green and Elizabeth Hahn sought protection to live by their convictions. These women and their families were victories and we should celebrate their courage to defend their constitutional rights in the face of fierce hostility.
In addition, Hobby Lobby’s legal counsel consisted of several women including Lori Windham. Speaking for the Green and Hahn family, Windham shared, “Women’s voices are heard standing up for religious freedom. This case is about the freedoms of all Americans, women and men. And it’s something that all Americans should celebrate.”
Glance at the photographs taken outside of the Supreme Court moments after the ruling was released. You will notice the photos captured joyful young women, many of my friends who work for faith-based pro-life, pro-family non-profits. These young Christian women were supporting religious freedom for all women, not corporate greed or capitalism.
Women of faith like Barbara Green, Elizabeth Han, and our pro-life friends and I, are ignored because we refuse to depend on emergency contraception for liberation. True liberation and the ability to live out Truth can only be found in Jesus Christ alone. According to Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is filled with women (and men’s) liberation stories. As followers of Christ, we are charged with the Great Commission to share the message of true salvation (Matthew 28:16-20). But sadly, many among the Religious Left continue to base women’s liberation from an embellished oppressive, patriarchal society through birth control instead of the transforming liberation through Jesus Christ.
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), is one such voice inside the Christian community that sees so-called “reproductive” rights as women’s ticket to freedom. The RCRC is a coalition including the Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church (USA) and United Church of Christ (UCC). Outraged by the court’s ruling, RCRC stated, “Real religious liberty protects the rights of women to make thoughtful decisions about whether and when to use contraception in private consultation with their doctors, their families and their own faith – there is no place for a boss’s beliefs in such conversations.”
Missing the point, Rev. Richard Cizik, President of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, wrote, “The supporters of Hobby Lobby think they are being ‘pro-life.’ They are wrong. A massive study conducted in 2012 showed that contraception coverage without a co-pay could dramatically reduce the abortion rate.” Since when is the Hobby Lobby ruling about monthly contraception?
Again, David Gushee and Brian McLaren, two leading voice among the Evangelical Left, both raised the same question, “Are critics taking seriously the public health benefits of no-cost contraception coverage, and the moral benefits of the likely dramatic reduction in the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions?”
Aside from the fact that these professing believers do not acknowledge that these drugs are life-terminating, these men are misleading women to believe these drugs are safe and regular forms of birth control.
Women, don’t be fooled! As RCRC wrongly claims, Hobby Lobby’s exemption from paying for these four abortifacients will not cost families “$40 a month.” Nor can they be used as regular forms of contraception. The major problem with Cizik, McLaren, Gushee’s shared argument is that they mislead women to believe that Next Choice, Plan B, and Ella are all regular forms of birth control. According to Next Choice’s packaging, is to be used in an “emergency” only and not as a regular form of birth control because it contains a higher dose of levonorgestrel, the drug typically comprising the Pill. Yet, regular forms of the Pill can cause women serious health complications including breast, cervical, and liver cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.
If there is such a thing as a “war on women,” it is being launched by “progressives” who view women’s worth according to how much free birth control we attain. Thankfully, our value extends beyond our ability to “family plan.” Women are hardworking, witty, caring and intelligent beings made in the image of our Creator, who calls us to live by faith beyond our sanctuary walls.
Chelsen Vicari serves as the Institute on Religion & Democracy’s Director of Evangelical Action and is the author of the forthcoming book Distortion: How the New Christian Left is Twisting the Gospel and Damaging the Faith (Frontline, September 2014).