Hey, Religious “Freedom” Laws Open The Door To Discrimination Against Women Too

One day people will wake up and wonder why they can no longer get the pill in their state, let alone an abortion. It will be a matter of some concern, no doubt since many people enjoy having sex for reasons other than procreation.

Just yesterday, President Obama proclaimed that April is “NATIONAL SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS AND PREVENTION MONTH“, because we should be “standing together against the quiet tolerance of sexual assault and refusing to accept the unacceptable.” After all, “Nearly one in five women in America has been a victim of rape or attempted rape.”

So it’s under the dark cloud of this reality that the press largely ignores the impact of certain state versions of “Religious Freedom Reformation Act” (RFRA) bills. That name is an Orwellian attempt to use the same name as the federal law for a law that does pretty much the opposite of the intentions of the federal law; the federal law was meant to protect religious minorities, not give the majority a club with which to beat minorities.

University of Buffalo associate law professor Michael Boucai explained that this issue “is far from solely an LGBT one.” Boucai said, “People have religious convictions about any number of things, he said. One can imagine demands for religious exemptions from laws that prohibit racial discrimination, laws mandating that insurance provide full coverage of reproductive health expenses, laws prohibiting animal cruelty, vaccination laws and environmental laws, to name a few.”

“It’s important that the public see how these RFRAs – not just Indiana’s – open the door for every person to become a law unto her – or himself. In that way, these laws are enacting as a statutory right what the Supreme Court, in cases involving Mormon polygamy and the ritual use of hallucinogens, has consistently and wisely rejected as constitutional right,” he said.

From racial minorities to animal rights, Republicans’ “religious freedom” is coming for you. No one is safe when everyone becomes a law unto themselves. Since the Indiana law is framed on the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision against covering contraception, it’s safe to imagine targeting women’s health is not just an accidental discrimination, but rather, deliberately on the agenda.

The Guttmacher Institute pointed out that legislators in 16 states have introduced versions of the RFRA, yet the potential impact on contraceptive coverage and women’s health has received little attention, “However, the potential impact on contraceptive coverage—and reproductive health more broadly—has received little, if any, attention.”

Of course, it’s easy to see why a little thing like women’s health can be so easily ignored. After all, Guttmacher points out, “By the end of the first quarter of the year, legislators had introduced 791 provisions related to sexual and reproductive health and rights.”

Hey, it’s just an infringement of the rights and liberty of over half the population of the country. No biggie.

Wondering how to source all of this draconian manipulation and discrimination? It goes back to Hobby Lobby’s fight to deny covering contraception, because they are (allegedly) against abortion so they figured the smartest thing to do would be to object to the ONE thing that reduces abortions for sure — contraception. The pill. The magical pill that gave women some measure of control over the planning of their families and lives. The pill that allows many to have sex with relative freedom from worry. The pill that regulates the cycle of women suffering from a myriad of diseases and reproductive system related medical issues.

Many state RFRAs, like Indiana’s and now the measure passed by the Arkansas legislature, open the Hobby Lobby door to discrimination against women and their healthcare needs. Expect the pill to no longer be covered in those states, because a Republican has decided that their alleged religion (sorry, but I’m not buying the notion that Christianity supports deliberate and painful discrimination as well as actual physical harm to women) trumps your right to medical care.

When your doctor prescribes the pill to you or your family member for a health reason and your insurance declines it, just remember that somewhere there’s a Republican who feels that women taking care of their health is an infringement upon said Republican’s religious freedom.

When you’re wondering why you can’t get the pill anymore, thank a Republican.

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