Women lose as belief trumps fact in “buffer zone” and “Hobby Lobby” decisions / by Allison Smartt
This past week was universally dark for women, largely due to two regressive Supreme Court decisions.
First was McCullen vs. Coakley, in which the Supreme Court overturned Massachusetts’ 35-foot abortion clinic buffer zone. The law made it a crime for anyone to stand on a public walk or sidewalk within 35 feet of a clinic’s entrance. This legislation was motivated largely by the 1994 shootings at abortion clinics in Boston that killed two and wounded five.
The second was Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, a landmark decision wherein the Supreme Court ruled that “closely-held corporations” are entitled to religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts chain store based in Oklahoma City, objected to providing health insurance coverage to female employees for four particular types of FDA-approved contraceptives which they believe prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg, and are therefore the same as an abortion, and therefore are equal to murder.
At face value, it is obvious why these decisions are a disgrace and a disservice to women. The nuances of the decisions make them even worse, particularly the soft and protective language that the Supreme Court continuously uses to describe anti-choice movement. Words like “gentle” and “counselors” are now compounded with the movements’ self-created mainstream name, “pro-life.” And we can thank SCOTUS for the misplaced positioning of the anti-choice movement as under-dogs that will only further the continued prioritization of corporate over individual, belief over fact and “pro life” over injustice. Take for example in McCullen, Supreme Court Justice Alito’s attempt to imagine a realistic scenario when a woman approaches an abortion clinic:
“A sidewalk counselor, such as petitioners, enters the buffer zone, approaches the woman and says, ‘If you have doubts about an abortion, let me try to answer any questions you may have. The clinic will not give you good information.’
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