Echoing Ida Writers Explain How the Hobby Lobby Decision Hurts Black Women

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

As you may have heard the Supreme Court issued a disappointing 5-4 decision on Monday stating that Hobby Lobby's owner's religious beliefs can extend to the company, thus creating another barrier to birth control for working families. At a time when women are already facing so many challenges to accessing healthcare, this decision cuts a deeper wound for Black women.

Echoing Ida writers: Amber Phillips, Elizabeth Dawes Gay,
Gloria Malone, Renee Bracey Sherman
The decision allows for-profit companies to refuse to cover emergency contraception and IUDs, which can cost up to $1,000 without insurance. In her dissenting opinion, Justice Ginsberg noted that this could cost a minimum wage employee their entire month's paycheck. “It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage," she writes.

In March, our Echoing Ida writers were at the Supreme Court speaking about the need to protect access to contraception for our communities. They foreshadowed the issues that we will now be facing with this new decision. This week, the Echoing Ida writers were out in full force writing about the devastating impact this decision will have for Black families.

At EBONY, Elizabeth Dawes Gay explains how many families receive their insurance from private companies and illustrates the widespread impact it could have.

"In 2011, more than half of Black people were covered by private (usually employer-sponsored) health insurance, either through their own employer or that of a family member, and 57 million adult women of all races were covered through employer-sponsored insurance.  If the behavior of companies like Hobby Lobby becomes the norm rather than the exception, it could impact contraceptive access for millions of people in the U.S. and have a disproportionate impact on Black women who, with lower income and wealth on average, may not be able to afford to pay for their contraception out-of-pocket."

For RH Reality Check, Renee Bracey Sherman reminds us that Black women have a maternal mortality rate three times that of White women. Withholding access to contraception can lead to death for many women.
"As with all women, Black women use birth control for both medical conditions and to prevent pregnancy—but Black women have a maternal mortality rate three times that of white women. When employers deny access to birth control, they are actually putting Black women’s lives in danger."
In her piece, Echoing Ida writer Cynthia Greenlee highlights the need to have a range of birth control options for Black women. She explains that the Hobby Lobby decision is tantamount to birth control method discrimination.
"According to 2009-2012 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 58 percent of non-Hispanic black women 20 years and older are considered obese. Of that same population demographic, some 44 percent have high blood pressure. Those women probably shouldn’t access some of the most popular forms of hormonal contraception or should do so under a doctor’s care. Either way, they need a full slate of contraceptive choices, and men and women who are happy with their contraceptive choices are more likely to use them correctly."
Over at Colorlines, Miriam Zoila Perez explains three ways the Hobby Lobby decision is worse for women of color. In addition to highlighting Dawes Gay and Bracey Sherman's articles, Zoila Perez points out the historical context of this issue as well.
"Women of color have already had to deal with a long history of reproductive control at the hands of employers and the government. From slave owners’ manipulation of Black women’s reproduction, to non-consensual sterilization of Latinas in public hospitals, to welfare reform and family caps limiting the number of children welfare recipients can have, women of color have long had to fight for the right to control their own reproduction. This case just adds another layer to controlling fertility, this time at the hands of employers."
We know this issue isn't only about Hobby Lobby and its employees - it's also about the 71 other companies with pending litigation and refusal to cover birth control, their employees, and families across the nation. As the old adage goes, 'history repeats itself'. Let's work together, organize, and make sure that this decision doesn't hurt our communities like it has in the past.

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