At the height of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, the Supreme Court ruled that doctors performing abortions did not have to have admitting rights at a nearby hospital, thereby making it easier for women to exercise their right to an abortion. Now as the protests quiet down, we have seen the exact opposite: the court issued a new ruling allowing companies to opt out of having their healthcare plans cover for contraceptives on the basis of religious and moral grounds.
The measure is one more way that bosses cut costs to increase their profits, and the result is a direct attack, specifically on female workers, who will be left to themselves to figure out how to get contraceptives. Without access to them, women have to pay out-of-pocket. In the past, before the mandatory coverage for contraceptives was made into law, that meant that collectively, women spent $1.4 billion dollars more in healthcare than men per year. And now, having this extra cost in the middle of a pandemic and economic crisis is an even heavier burden on women.
It’s hard to say for certain that these Supreme Court rulings are tied to the activity of the Black Lives Matter movement. But we did see that the recent protests got killer cops fired and racist monuments taken down.
The court rulings do bring up some major questions. Why is access to healthcare tied to our jobs? And why should the bosses decide who gets access to contraceptives when so many women depend on these methods to secure their choice, freedom, and independence? The answer is not in depending on the courts. The only way to have our voices heard is through linking people’s issues and connecting struggles. The giant protests following George Floyd’s murder by cops show the possibilities that await us when we fight back.
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