When I wrote my original story on the SCOTUS docket, I really anticipated that it would go one way or the other. I would either get a complete victory or take a complete loss. In reality, what happened instead was a split set of decisions that will change the way our reproductive health is dealt with.
Let's first take a look at the decision of June Medical Services LLC v. Russo, the case that decided the fate of abortion in the United States. In my original post, I compared it to the Whole Women's Health decision, as did Chief Justice John Roberts in his concurring opinion. Roberts wrote that—despite disagreeing with the decision in Whole Women's Health from 2016—he recognized it as valid precedent, and joined the liberal bloc on the bench in supporting and affirming abortion rights. This decision overturns a Louisiana law—classified as a TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion providers)—which required abortion care providers to have admitting privileges at a local and nearby hospital. This had virtually eliminated most abortion providers in the state. Because this law has been overturned, we'll see a loosening of restrictions on abortion in many of the states across the South and Midwest, who often rely on TRAP laws to ban or reduce abortion.
On July 8th, SCOTUS published their decision on Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania (also known as Trump v. Pennsylvania). The Supreme Court upheld a Trump administration regulation that lets employers use a religious exemption to prevent birth control and contraception being covered under employee health plans. This decision does not just affect specifically religious locations like mosques, temples, churches, and other traditional places of worship; it also includes religious schools, hospitals with religious affiliations, and more. Even if the person requesting birth control is using it for medical purposes outside of preventing pregnancy, they can still be denied access based on "religious or moral exemptions," regardless of whether the person asking for it is religious or not. This is yet another example of U.S. policy allowing one person's religious choices to infringe upon another person's right to seek care. Your ability to get the healthcare you need shouldn't depend on your employer's religious biases or personal beliefs. This decision is a massive hit to those needing to seek contraception for any reason, and could potentially cut coverage for hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S.
While June Medical Services went our way this SCOTUS season, Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania certainly did not. While I'm overjoyed that abortion rights have not been infringed upon this year, I'm sad to see that employers are being given another way to hurt their employees. The effects of these decisions together have yet to be observed, but in the coming months—especially with a unique election coming this November—I believe we'll see a strong wave of people turning up the volume on discussions of reproductive justice.
Abortion and Birth Control Resources
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Sources on Birth Control: