Issued June 30, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, issued this statement about the Supreme Court rulings today in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell permitting certain for-profit corporations to refuse to comply with the Affordable Care Act's requirement that their health plans cover birth control:
The court's rulings allow the religious beliefs of the owners of certain corporations to trump the beliefs and personal health decisions of millions of employees. The Court accepted the absurd argument that 'closely-held' corporations - legal entities that lack a heart, mind, or soul - can have religious beliefs. And it agreed that, based on those religious beliefs, a company can pick and choose which types of preventative health care its employees will have coverage for.
"The Court's decisions today will cause real harm to the physical and economic health of America's women workers and their families. Beyond that, the decisions may open the door to even broader attacks on preventive healthcare and also basic workplace rights, including freedom from gender discrimination or the right to unite together in a union.
"If employers can decide not to cover a certain form of birth control because of their religious beliefs, they might also assert that they don't have to provide other types of preventive coverage, like prenatal testing or blood transfusions. Employers might go further and claim a right to refuse to hire women based on a religious belief that women should not work outside the home. Or they might fire workers for supporting unions if their religion does not agree with unionization."