Monica Wehby brings Hobby Lobby close to home

Kristin Teigen

The decision issued by the Supreme Court Monday in what is now known as the Hobby Lobby case has left many progressives simply horrified. After President Obama, and progressive senators like Jeff Merkley, pushed for a broad mandate to ensure that every woman could have access to birth control under the Affordable Care Act, five male Justices formed a majority, yanking this access away. They stated that closely held corporations could claim that their religious beliefs were paramount to the health of their employees and their most personal of decisions. Now, to be clear, it’s their female employees they want to police, as both vasectomies and Viagra are still covered. Of course.

Justice Alito was specifically concerned about any fines that these restrictive corporations might face from the federal government, calling them potentially a “substantial burden.” Substantial burden…right. As Justice Ginsburg pointed out in her scathing dissent, the costs of an IUD can be up to one month’s salary for some women. Indeed, this decision makes it so much harder for women struggling to make it on an hourly wage to get the healthcare they need. Apparently, these substantial burdens, those of low and middle income women, don’t count.

Why does all of this matter to us here in Oregon?

Well, Monica Wehby, current Republican candidate for the US Senate, thinks this Hobby Lobby decision is just swell. According to her campaign manager, Michael Antonopoulos, Dr. Wehby “doesn’t see a problem with the ruling.” This, despite the fact that she’s a doctor and has no doubt seen the way in which family planning is perhaps the most fundamental of healthcare services a woman needs.

Make no mistake – the ACA continues to survive only because progressive senators continue to fight for it. And, if Congress passes a law to mitigate the Hobby Lobby decision, it will be because of progressive senators.

Progressive leadership is not just important to protect family planning, though. Think about it. A religious exemption to federal laws? What’s next? The minimum wage law? Anti-discrimination laws? Environmental regulations? Already there's blowback to President Obama's recent Executive Order requiring federal contractors to extend equal benefits to their LGBT employees. The implications of this historic precedent may be felt for years to come.

I’m a feminist through and through…and I delight, exalt, in supporting women, those who serve as courageous leaders, and as fierce advocates for our health care, our families and our futures. We need more women in every elected office in the state and in our nation. Yet, in this case, supporting women and their families means ensuring that Monica Wehby does not get elected.

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