Tuesday, State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) and Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) held a press conference announcing legislation to address the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. In that decision, the Court ruled that some corporations cannot be required to provide insurance coverage for contraception methods that would violate the religious beliefs of company owners. The development was widely panned as a setback to the personal liberty of hard-working American women.
“We are introducing this legislation to protect the health care decisions of women and their health providers. Physicians are best able to decide appropriate health care and prescriptions needed by their patients. Employers should not be able to selectively decide which care or prescriptions can be given to whom,” stated Tavares.
The Not My Boss’s Business Act will prohibit employers from excluding birth control from coverage and from discriminating against an individual based on reproductive health decisions. Recent polling from Hart Research indicates that 84 percent of women agree that birth control “should be a woman’s personal decision.”
State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland), a joint sponsor of the Senate bill, commented that the bill “ensures the right that women should be the sole decision makers regarding their reproductive health—not their bosses, their insurance company or their government.”
“Women work hard to earn their workplace insurance plans, and to have CEOs dictate what forms of birth control are acceptable is a slap in the face to American women.” said Turner.
“Women can’t afford these recent attacks on this very basic part of their preventive health care, not when the costs of some birth control methods are as much as a minimum wage worker’s monthly take-home pay. It is not fair to target medicine taken only by women for exclusion from basic health coverage,” said Rep. Clyde, who will be introducing the bill in the House.
Rashida Manuel, a patient from Cincinnati, elaborated on the need to have guaranteed access to contraceptive coverage. “I’ve had two surgeries in the last few years because of my polycystic ovarian syndrome, and birth control pills are the preventative care that I need to ensure my body functions at its best,” Rashida said. “I’m more than willing to share my story, but I shouldn’t have to. My medical conditions are not my boss’s business—they’re mine and my doctor’s.”
“When we force women into deeper poverty or force them into a situation in which they must rely on an employer’s religious beliefs in order to make decisions about their own health care, we are not being kind,” said the Reverend Kate Shaner, Minister of Missions at the First Community Church in Columbus. “The thought that my daughters and your daughters would have their reproductive decisions made by an employer instead of themselves in consultation with their families, their clergy and their God seems archaic and inhumane at best.”