(Photo: Adam Nathaniel Peck/Facebook)
If all of its songs and my old history textbooks are true, July 4 is about freedom. Freedom from oppression, tyranny, governance by another entity — however we want to frame it. We’re free now and we’re really happy about it. But as women, people of color, people with diverse backgrounds and desires, we know we have to stay vigilant about keeping our freedom. And as of a few days ago, some of us feel a little under the gun. This week, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a decision (Burwell vs Hobby Lobby) that allows employers—specifically Hobby Lobby, in this case—to opt out of insuring birth control that’s mandated under the Affordable Care Act. Not all birth control, just several important types, including emergency contraception like Plan B. All of them are used by women. Pointing the trigger at women? That’s how we feel about it. So what can you do, besides feel a certain way? Short of staging your own crafty protest (see photo above and read about one guy’s efforts to send a clever, on-site message), here are some tactics:
Get the Facts
Sure, I can knee-jerk react to things I read on the internet as well as the next person. I’m trying to slow down and get informed about the judicial processes and decisions, so when I get upset, I’ll have the facts to back me up. These are the posts that really helped me justify my concerns this week.
- Hobby Lobby’s Meaning: Majority Steers Us Toward Universal Health Care by Leslie Fenton at The Didi Blog
- High Court Allows Some Companies To Opt Out Of Contraceptives Mandate by Nina Totenberg at NPR
- Hobby Lobby Symposium: Corporations Who Worship – 1, Women Who Work — 0 by Dawn Johnsen at SCOTUS Blog
And the SCOTUS Blog’s Wednesday roundup by Amy Howe, which is a comprehensive list of links looking at the decision from all sides. It’s one of the best and most important information resources we have in our government.
Join the Dissent
Now that you’ve got the facts, you can share your own story, send an e-mail, sign a petition, comment, write, or all of the above.
- Planned Parenthood has a message that’s easy to send to the Supreme Court. “Do you agree? Join the dissent, and send a message to lawmakers, employers, and the Supreme Court: our medical decisions belong to us, not our bosses.” The Planned Parenthood Action Fund has loads of information and resources if you’d like to get involved in advocacy on this issue. You can sign up for action alerts, join Latinos or African-Americans for Planned Parenthood, get involved on college campuses, or, of course, donate.
- NARAL also has a direct message you can send your representatives in Congress.
- Don’t know where to start with your own opinion piece? The Op-Ed Project can help. Their mission is to increase the range of voices and quality of ideas we hear in the world, specifically to increase the number of women thought leaders in key commentary forums to a tipping point.
Voter participation in the Democratic primary for Governor was 22 percent last week in Maryland — the state where I live. That’s pretty bad. If we don’t exercise our rights as citizens from local and state government on up, it’s harder to complain about the results. So. Make sure you’re registered and vote. If you’re interested in seeing pro-choice women get elected, Emily’s List is the organization to follow. They support politicians like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who believes that “the current Supreme Court has headed in a very scary direction.”
It is a holiday after all, and one thing worth celebrating is that we live in a country where we can speak up when we don’t agree. Angry at Hobby Lobby? You can update your Facebook status, discuss it in scary internet comment sections, or stand on a street corner with a sign without fear of government punishment. That is not the case in so many places around the world, so we are fortunate, and maybe just maybe take it for granted a little bit. (I know I do.) The First Amendment Project is a cool reminder of just what this American right means. So July 4, be glad you can sing your choice of patriotic song—or not—join a parade, eat, drink, gather, and party however you’d like in your home of the free, as challenged as your reproductive rights may be. Monday? Write to your elected officials. Because dissent is as necessary in 2014 as it was in 1775.