Coloradans have a long history of supporting privacy rights and believing that our medical decisions -- including birth control and the decision to have an abortion -- belong between an individual and their doctor. Colorado voters have said time and time again, in overwhelming numbers, that this is nobody's business but theirs and that government should stay out.
But last week, Colorado's Attorney General, John Suthers, signed onto a brief against the birth control benefit in the Affordable Care Act, and in support of exempting the for-profit company Hobby Lobby and other corporations from providing birth control to employees on their health insurance plans.
This is appalling and it's not what Colorado's workers and their families want. Bosses should stay out of birth control decisions. Can you even imagine your employer having veto power on whether your health insurance plan covers emergency contraception or an IUD?
But on March 25, the Supreme Court will hear claims by two for-profit corporations, including Hobby Lobby, that they have a right to deny their employees birth control. These cases could deny millions of people access to affordable birth control and open the door to employers refusing to cover a wide variety of medical procedures because of their personal beliefs: vaccines, surgeries, blood transfusions, HIV treatment, stem cell treatments for cancer -- the list goes on and on.
The corporate bosses behind these lawsuits and their backers are playing politics with reproductive health care. Medical organizations, including the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have filed a brief opposing the Hobby Lobby suit and stating it has no scientific basis. Providing a basic health service to millions of people shouldn't be up for debate, but the bosses fighting this law want to do whatever it takes to push their way into decisions that should stay between an individual and their doctor. Bosses shouldn't have the power to deny employees birth control.
Millions of women and men alike are helped by this benefit. The impact of a negative ruling on women alone could be staggering: 36 million American women are in need of contraception. Ninety-nine percent of U.S. women between the ages of 15 and 44 who are sexually active have used birth control at some point. Many women use it for reasons other than contraception including hormone treatment following chemotherapy or for easing the symptoms of endometriosis.
I've spoken out publicly about protecting the birth control benefit, and the brief our Attorney General signed onto in favor of overturning it, telling the Colorado Independent "It's about the individual's right, not about the company's."
We're asking everyone: Take action now and let Attorney General Suthers know that every individual should be able to make their own decisions about using contraception.
Attorney General Suthers and all politicians need know that it isn't their business or the boss's business when individuals make their own birth control decisions. We should be protecting access to reproductive health care and respecting the will of Colorado voters.
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