Monday, July 7, 2014

Freedom isn’t free. And neither is birth control.

The fireworks stands are popping up on every corner reminding us of the holiday that celebrates freedom and independence. However, a recent Supreme Court decision was quick to remind us that individual freedom- freedom to decide how to plan for child-bearing and freedom to decide what is best for our bodies is often not free. On June 30, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that closely held corporations, such as Hobby Lobby, cannot be required to provide contraceptive coverage to its employees if they object based on religious reasons. Our CEO, Forrest Alton, released this statement about the decision, “…when that decision-making autonomy is taken away and barriers are introduced, whether those be cost or otherwise, it makes it less likely women will choose to use the most effective methods of contraception consistently.” So while many women work in positions that will allow them access to long-acting reversible contraception (i.e. the IUD-intrauterine device) at a free or reduced cost, women who work at Hobby Lobby will not have the freedom to do the same. Of course, they can pay for it out-of-pocket but given the long-acting nature of these methods, the cost is often upwards of $500.

I find myself in a position that some may think is contradictory: I think the Supreme Court’s decision was wrong, and I am also a Christian. So where does that leave me? Does that mean that I am a lesser Christian than the executives at Hobby Lobby? I like to think that I am a Jesus-loving, women's rights supporting, Hillary in 2016 believing, firearm toting, equal rights supporting Christian. And no, I don't think that phrase is an oxymoron.

First of all, contraception is not just used by “promiscuous teens” (as you will hear some people say) but it is used by an overwhelming majority of women – young and old. The reasons for use vary, some women use contraception for the benefits to their skin and complexion, while others use it for regulating menstrual cycles, while the majority of women use it for preventing pregnancies or family planning. The long-acting reversible contraception methods (i.e., IUD, the shot, the implant), are used by many women in monogamous, exclusive relationships or marriages so they can plan for children or allow adequate space between pregnancies to help decrease the chances of complications during and after pregnancy.

While I am always in support of anyone standing up for what they think is right (even though I may not agree), it seems that if Hobby Lobby wants to use religious opposition to some forms of birth control, doesn’t that mean that they should also refuse to cover medications for diabetes and high blood pressure caused by obesity since gluttony is also a sin? Or refuse to cover psychological services that result from a sin like adultery or pornography addiction? Or perhaps refuse to cover medication that is only needed because of a sin - like medication needed because of experience with drug abuse and addiction?

Again, don’t get me wrong I am in full support of someone taking a stance for their religious freedom but shouldn’t it be an all or nothing stance? It isn’t fair to Christians as a whole when someone picks and choose the parts of the Bible that they want to enforce and then make a public stance based on religious beliefs. This type of “cherry-picking” Bible verses when it is convenient or comfortable supports the general consensus that all Christians are hypocritical and are only known for what they are against, and not what they are for (FYI –I believe my main man Jesus was for love, tolerance & forgiveness).

So as the holiday weekend approaches and we become consumed with fireworks, cookouts and dysfunctional family gatherings, consider this: the decision made by the Supreme Court directly impacted the freedom of a group of women who are employed with Hobby Lobby but even more so this decision was made loud and clear to all women who now feel more vulnerable to having their individual liberties stripped away by their employer. As anyone with a child knows, or anyone that has ever been around children, the ability to easily access and afford effective birth control options impacts everyone, not just us lucky ones born with a uterus.

Check out this TIME Magazine article to learn more about IUDs. 

by Sarah Kershner, It's Your Game Project Coordinator, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy


  1. Beautiful! Great points and well written!

  2. Nicely written, Sarah. Thank you for taking the time to post a comment on such an extraordinary decision.