Religious Liberty and the Human Reproductive Rights of Women
The Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation, a founding member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) joins with our sister faith based organizations in expressing disappointment and concern for the human reproductive rights of women that the U Supreme Court avoided issuing a ruling in Zubik v. Burwell, a case brought by religiously affiliated non-profit employers who do not want to have any role in giving their employees access to contraception.
These employers, in seven separate law suits, had claimed that the requirement under the Affordable Care Act that they must notify their insurer or the government that they object to providing coverage, at which point the government would provide birth control at no cost to these employers still violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)
Instead of making a decision on the merits of the case, the SCOTUS has returned the case to lower federal appeals courts, all but one previously siding with the government and against the nonprofits. Their decisions have been voided and the Supreme Court has asked both parties in the suit to work on crafting compromises.
“As an affiliate organization of the Unitarian Universalist Association, we affirm the inherent worth of every woman and the right of conscience,” said Dr. Kirstie Lewis, President of the Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation (UUWF).
“We do not see claims of religious liberty as grounds for religious organizations to interfere in the coverage of contraception for their employees. In our view, the Supreme Court lost an important opportunity to bring these religious liberty arguments to an end and to validate the choices of women whether they work for religious institutions or not.”
Along with some 40 organizations, UUWF has signed on to support the just introduced the Do No Harm Act, announced this week by Representatives Joe Kennedy (D-MA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA). This legislation would amend RFRFA to protect the religious, civil and conscience-based rights of individuals. The Do No Harm act would restore the original intent of RFRA by ensuring that it cannot be misused to discriminate and harm others, including circumstances where access to health care may be blocked or hampered.