This week, the Supreme Court ruled that employers have the right to refuse no-cost birth control under employer-based healthcare coverage. Ava DeSantis writes why the feminist fight for bodily autonomy means feminists should be anti-capitalists.
When President Trump became the 45th President of the United States, his Department of Health and Human services changed Obama-era policy to allow publicly-traded companies to opt-out of providing no-cost birth control to women, if employers cite religious or moral objections to contraception. Courts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania blocked the changes, calling them unconstitutional.
This week, the court overruled the lower court blocks by a vote of 7-2, with Justices Ginsberg and Sotomayor dissenting. Estimates conclude that these changes will deprive between 70,000 and 126,000 women of birth control coverage in the next year.
In a Harper’s Bazaar op-ed, Ilyse Hogue, the President of NARAL Pro-Choice America, wrote “though the outcome we saw in the birth control case is deeply disturbing, it goes beyond the clear threat to reproductive freedom that it represents. It’s also the alarming advancement of the radical Right’s quest to maintain a rigid social order in our society…” In the article, Hogue explained how restricting the bodily autonomy of women puts women in a lower social order, particularly women of color.
Your boss should never control your body
This most recent Supreme Court decision seems particularly heinous to advocates of bodily autonomy, myself included, because it discriminates against women, non-binary, and transgender individuals who use birth control for a variety of reasons. It also includes a religious element as a justification for this discrimination. Your boss controls your body; and if you have a problem with that, you should be an anti-capitalist.
On healthcare, employer-based healthcare coverage allowed employers to shift the cost of healthcare coverage to employees, who have no other affordable option for healthcare. The proportion of workers with high-deductible health plans increased from 6% to 22% between 2006 and 2018. High-deductible health plans have deductibles of more than $1,300/$2,600 for an individual family. These high-deductibles can force employees to waive their healthcare coverage, or cut corners in other aspects of their personal finances.
Then, there is the most obvious loss of bodily autonomy to your employer: your work day. It is a simple idea; when you are at work, your time is not your own.
Your employer, before this Court decision, was also already guilty of the element of control Hogue identifies with the decision to deny no-cost birth control to women: creating a rigid social order. Through your wages, or salary, your employer decides where you can afford to live, what you can afford to eat, and if you can afford vacations or to send your children to college.
The Supreme Court this week continued its pattern of denying women bodily autonomy. If you are angry, as you should be, it may be time to make a bigger commitment to bodily autonomy and become an anti-capitalist.