Nothing But Good News for Women

Don't buy the doom and gloom; the Hobby Lobby ruling is a win for women.

Hobby Lobby supporters react to the U.S. Supreme Court decision on June 30, 2014, in Washington, D.C.


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Congratulations, women of America! I have some salutary news for you. It may come as a surprise after the week’s rather hysterical news coverage, but I think you will be pleased to learn that your country’s Supreme Court yesterday took the bold step of doing absolutely nothing to prevent you from using the birth control of your choice.

The majority opinion in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius places zero legal barriers on the purchase of contraceptives. Despite being written by one of the court’s most conservative justices, it places half as many as zero barriers on the purchase of the morning-after pill. It includes no provisions to limit a woman’s ability to procure from her doctor a prescription for any drug, bring that prescription to a pharmacy, have it filled, take the drug home and ingest it.

But that’s not all it doesn’t do.

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The part of the majority opinion that fails to prohibit women from exchanging dollars for contraception comes right after the part that fails to prohibit them from actively seeking out employers who will help share in the burden of paying for that contraception, and right before the part that fails to prohibit employers from offering, if they choose, a health insurance plan that covers the cost of some or all forms of contraception.

Should you find yourself interviewing with a closely held company that has opted not to pay for its employees’ birth control, the opinion includes just twice as many as zero legal impediments to your using that as justification to refuse the company’s offer of employment. And should you find yourself already employed by such a company, the opinion is entirely devoid of obstacles to your leaving the job and taking your unquestionably valuable talents elsewhere.

The majority opinion does not keep the federal government from offering birth control free of charge to women whose employers don’t provide it. In fact, the majority opinion helpfully suggests the idea after (I’m assuming) its authors realized the federal government must have stayed up all night drafting regulations while forgetting direct provision is a thing.

In sum, the majority opinion in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius doesn’t interfere with any woman’s right to spend her hard-earned money (you go, girl) on whatever type of birth control she prefers to use. And in addition to not interfering with that right, it creates new protections for a different one — the right to start a business and then run it in accordance with her deeply held beliefs.