Last month, The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that family-owned corporations are not required to follow the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act because it violates a federal law which protects religious freedom. The controversial decision, split 5-4, sparked frenzied discussions and debates, with the loudest voices of dissent coming from the bench: all three women of the Supreme Court - Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor - and Justice Stephen Breyer.
First, let's break down what Burwell v. Hobby Lobby means. In a "decision of startling breadth", the Supreme Court opened the door for closely-held, for-profit corporations to opt out of the contraceptive mandate if it conflicts with their sincerely held religious beliefs. According to the Wall Street Journal, a "closely-held" company consists of any company where 50% of the value of the company is owned by five or fewer people. We have no idea yet how far this could go -- but nine out of 10 businesses in the United States qualify as closely-held. That means that this decision expands well beyond Hobby Lobby, and that countless other businesses can use this decision to claim that the birth control mandate of the ACA violates their religious liberty.
Keeping Burwell v. Hobby Lobby in mind, here are six things every Latina should know about birth control in a post-Hobby Lobby world:
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#1: Most Latinas use birth control.
Let's start with the basics. According to research conducted by The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), the vast majority of Latinas use contraception or birth control. In fact, the majority of Latinas (97%) who have ever had sex have used contraception, and 96% of sexually active Catholic Latinas have used a contraceptive banned by the Vatican -- including 90% of married women.
#2: Latinas Believe Birth Control Should Be Easy Access.
The truth is, most Latinas use birth control and want it to be readily and easily available. A study published in Politics & Gender found that foreign-born and U.S.-born Latinos both overwhelmingly support easy access to birth control. U.S.-born Latinas came out strongest on the issue, with 74% strongly agreeing that contraception should be easy-access. Foreign-born Latinas followed, with 62% strongly agreeing and 19% agreeing.
#3: Latinas support the birth control benefit of the Affordable Care Act:
Luckily, most women will continue to be covered by their insurance, thanks to the ACA. The Affordable Care Act instituted the birth control mandate to make sure that women had easy, affordable access to all forms of contraception -- a decision which many Latinas support. In fact, a study published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the majority of Americans support the birth control benefit of the Affordable Care Act, including 76% of Latinos.
#4 Cost Matters.
Let's face it: Latinas and other minority women are more likely to be low-income or work a minimum wage than their white, non-Latina counterparts. Latinas, women of color, and other impoverished women deserve access to affordable birth control. As Justice Ruth Ginsburg pointed out in her dissent, the cost of Intrauterine Device (which Hobby Lobby does not cover) could cost a full-months pay for workers earning the minimum wage. IUDs, which have a failure rate of less than 1%, can cost between $718 and $844.
Sadly, cost does matter, and it can prevent women from using birth control. A study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute found that 50% of women aged 18-24 (including Latinas) said there had been a time when the cost of prescription birth control prevented consistent use.
#6: Latinas Need Access To All Forms of Birth Control.
Hobby Lobby touted the fact that they still provide 16 out of 20 forms of birth control to their employees. What they fail to mention, however, is that four out of the 16 are readily available over-the-counter. Additionally, Hobby Lobby won't be required to provide Copper Intra-Uterine Devices, IUDs with progestin, Plan B, and Ella because the company believes they cause abortions. Fact is: none of these forms of contraception cause abortions. Not to mention, many women need an IUD or Copper Intra-Uterine Device because of health issues that extend beyond preventing pregnancy, and many women simply prefer them to other forms of contraception or birth control. These women deserve to have a choice when it comes to their birth control -- and that decision should not involve their boss.
#7: There are alternatives to employer provided insurance.
Birth control is not our boss's business. Unfortunately, because of the decision made in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, many women now find themselves discussing personal matters like birth control with co-workers and bosses. Fortunately, several organizations are available to help.
Women with questions about coverage should talk to their HR department or text "birthcontrol" to 69866 to receive assistance from a Planned Parenthood representative via e-mail or phone call. Additionally, women who have been denied coverage by their employer can seek out any Planned Parenthood health center for alternative options.