In a truly disappointing ruling today, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in favor of a closely held corporation’s right to deny coverage for contraception to employees and their families based on an employer’s personal beliefs.
“Contraception is essential to women’s health and well-being, a critical component of preventive care, and integral to the health of families. We are deeply dismayed that the Supreme Court has placed the personal beliefs of the few ahead of the preventive health needs of the many,” said Physicians for Reproductive Health Board Chair Nancy L. Stanwood, MD, MPH. Read the rest of her statement in our press release.
In January, Physicians, along with three major medical groups representing a wide spectrum of health care providers, filed a brief in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores. An excerpt from the brief:
In short, health care decisions should be made by patients in consultation with their health care providers based on the best interests of the patient. This is possible only when health care providers have the full range of options available to recommend or prescribe in accordance with the individual circumstances of each patient. To allow the personal view of a remote party—the employer of a patient (or the patient’s spouse or guardian)—to play a role in a patient’s medical treatment would undermine the very nature of the patient-provider relationship and would cause wide ranging harms to public health.
For more background on the dangerous impact that this ruling could have on women's health, read our doctors' stories about the vital role that access to affordable contraception can play in women's lives.
Today, in a unanimous ruling on McCullen v. Coakley, the United States Supreme Court struck down Massachusetts’ commonsense state law establishing buffer zones outside of reproductive health care clinics. As doctors who work at such clinics and who have witnessed the threats, intimidation, and harassment of anti-choice protesters, this ruling is profoundly disappointing.
Dr. Nancy Stanwood, our board chair, called the ruling "a blow to women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health care," adding: "Buffer zones are a critical tool in providing privacy and protection to patients and staff at embattled clinics. It is highly disappointing that the court discounted the findings of the legislature and recommendations of law enforcement officers in Massachusetts who favored the buffer zone law, recognizing its effectiveness in maintaining public safety."
Leadership Training Academy fellow Dr. Shannon Connelly, who worked at a Boston clinic, said: "Having feared for my own safety in this environment, I could easily empathize with the patients who were reduced to tears because they were frightened by the intimidation tactics of the so-called sidewalk counselors."
Read more of their comments in our press release, which is available here.