As the U.S. Supreme Court meets in Washington, D.C. today to consider a controversial case involving birth control and the Affordable Care Act, some UNC students will be protesting outside of the court building.
The case, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby , centers on the responsibility of employers and businesses to cover birth control in employee health insurance plans regardless of religious belief.
Park Cannon, a UNC student and organizing intern for NARAL Pro-Choice America, a pro-abortion rights and contraceptive organization , traveled to D.C. over the weekend by bus for the protest today.
“I stand as a pro-choice woman with NARAL against anything that doesn’t allow women a choice,” Cannon said. “Birth control is a sure method of giving women a choice, and not covering contraceptives for employees is a burden.”
She said NARAL and supporters of Planned Parenthood plan to unfurl a banner with 41,192 signatures in support of contraceptive access.
Students for Life of America, a national anti-abortion organization, has also called for college students to gather in front of the Supreme Court’s steps in support of Hobby Lobby.
According to a press release from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty , 84 amicus briefs have been filed with the court. A majority has been filed in favor of Hobby Lobby, the Oklahoma-based arts and crafts store that does not want to provide emergency contraceptives via health insurance for employees.
“No one should be forced to give up their constitutionally-protected civil rights just to go into business,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and counsel for Hobby Lobby in a statement. "The filing demonstrates in no uncertain terms that the government’s efforts to strip this family business of its religious rights represent a gross violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment."
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit organization which works to advance health, including abortion rights, more than 99 percent of women aged 15 to 44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method.
Some LGBT organizations have also voiced their concerns about the case.
Lambda Legal, a legal organization that works for the rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people, has filed an amicus brief in the case.
"The Supreme Court has never before allowed commercial businesses to ignore regulations that protect workers based on the religious beliefs of a corporation's owners,” said Jennifer Pizer, Lambda Legal senior counsel, in a statement.
She said this could open the door to religiously-based discrimination targeting LGBT people and denying them equal pay and health care access.
“By being required to make a choice between sacrificing our faith or paying millions of dollars in fines, we essentially must choose which poison pill to swallow,” said David Green, Hobby Lobby CEO and founder, in a statement. “We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.”
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