Politics & Government
4:08 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Oregon Senator Speaks Out On Hobby Lobby Case

Last week, the US Supreme Court heard “Hobby Lobby vs Sebelius.” The case could allow for-profit companies to deny health insurance coverage to women for birth control and other services if-- the CEO has a moral objection. Today, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, business owners and women’s health advocates called on the land’s highest court to protect women’s health care.

Nearly fifty years ago, a landmark Supreme Court case ended state bans on access to birth control, ruling it was protected in the Constitution as a “right to privacy.”

Senator Jeff Merkley flanked by BRING employees and Eugene/Springfield area women's health advocates.
Credit Tiffany Eckert

Merkley: “But, I’m here today because a woman’s access to contraception is once again threatened.”

Addressing a small but enthusiastic crowd outside BRING Recycling, Senator Merkley says birth control should be treated like any other preventative health care. Merkley says Oregon does this with the Access to Birth Control Act, which includes the same standards for religious exemption as the Affordable Care Act.

Merkley:  “I can tell you that since we passed this in 2007, I have held over 200 Town Hall meetings and never once has a person stood up to say they think the Access to Birth Control bill from 2007 here in Oregon went down the wrong track.”

BRING Executive Director Julie Daniel describes her small business’ position.

Outside BRING Recycling, women and men show support of access to contraception.
Credit Tiffany Eckert

Daniel: “We consider birth control and contraceptive services are a basic health care right and not including them included in a health policy is discriminatory to women. About half our workforce here are women, so this is an issue that’s very personal to us.”

Merkley hopes the US Supreme Court justices will consider this when ruling on the Hobby Lobby case.

Merkley: “Our bosses should not be in our bedrooms. It’s not our bosses business.”

The arts and crafts chain, Hobby Lobby, has 13,000 employees. Company owners have stated they want to continue providing health insurance to their employees, but site religious objections to covering certain methods of birth control that end life after conception.