Another shot in what liberals like to call the War on Women has just been fired. It came in the form of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that family-owned companies don’t have to pay for contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act if it violates the family’s religious beliefs.
As liberals see it, this is a clear-cut case of Republican misogyny toward women. And they don’t plan to let a decision they don’t like go to waste.
The case was brought by Hobby Lobby, a chain of crafts stores, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, which makes wood cabinets. Both companies are owned by Christian families that faced fines in the millions if they refused coverage.
The Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare requires employers to provide female workers with the kind of coverage that pays for a variety of birth control methods. The companies objected to some of the methods saying they amount to abortion, since they may prevent embryos from implanting in the womb. If they provided coverage for those types of contraception, the companies said, they would be complicit in something that violates their religious values.
The ruling was 5-4. All five Justices in the majority were appointed by Republican presidents while the four voting in the minority were appointed by Democrats.
So the battle lines are drawn: for conservatives the decision came down to upholding a federal law that protected Americans against undue intrusion by the government in matters of religion. For liberals, it was about what they see as women’s rights.
Democrats are already using the Court’s decision to rev up the party’s base in advance of the mid-term elections four months away. They knew they were going to have a voter turnout problem in November, given President Obama’s fading popularity. Now they’re hoping the Supreme Court, while handing down a ruling they don’t like, also handed them a gift.
Within minutes of the ruling, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who heads up the Democratic National Committee said, “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans have gained access to preventive services without out-of-pocket costs, including birth control. However, this decision takes money out of the pockets of women and their families and allows for-profit employers to deny access to certain health care benefits based on their personal beliefs. Nearly sixty percent of women who use birth control do so for more than just family planning.
“It is no surprise that Republicans have sided against women on this issue as they have consistently opposed a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions,” she added. “Republicans have also blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would bring us closer to the promise of equal pay for women. In the wake of this dangerous precedent set by the Supreme Court, Democrats in Congress will continue to fight on the issues of importance to women and their families.”
It matters, Democrats are saying, who gets appointed to the Supreme Court. It matters what party runs the Senate and gets to vote on those appointments. Too much is at stake for women, so don’t sit home in November, is the message.
The problem for Democrats is that while single women make up one of the fastest growing voter demographics in the United States, comprising about 25 percent of the electorate, young women are less likely to vote in midterm elections – just like everyone else.
As a piece in the National Journal pointed out: “A Supreme Court case doesn’t necessarily change that: Getting young female voters fired up about a decision is one thing; getting them to vote is another.”
Despite the noise surrounding the High Court’s decision, women, of course, can still use contraceptives. (See picture at the top of this column.) They can go out and buy them, using their own money. But that will not stop liberal politicians, rightfully worried about the midterms, from portraying the court’s decision as a declaration of war against women.
Liberals understandably were hoping for a different decision from the Supreme Court, one that put what they see as women’s rights over religious rights. The question now before a different court — the court of public opinion — is whether a decision they don’t like will turn out to be good news for them come November.