Supreme Court ruling could cause problems for both movements
Of the 200 people who turned out to
South Towne Mall last weekend to protest Hobby Lobby's refusal to cover select forms of birth control for its employees, three stood out in the crowd; Samantha Burden, 17; Olivia Ravenscroft, 16; and Anna Schmidt, 16.
All members of the
Memorial High School Women's Club, they said they grew up thinking that birth control was available to those who needed it "It's shocking this is still an issue," said Ravenscroft
It was a sentiment shared by women at the other end of the age spectrum, who were more numerous at the protest They included
Kathy Miner, 63, who held a sign that read, "Can't BELIEVE we're fighting this x@%!! battle AGAIN."
Miner stood with a couple other members of the Raging Grannies:
Susan Bickley 73, and Sheila Plotkin, 76.
"Fifty years ago we were on the street fighting," said Bickley. "We cannot believe we are doing that again."
Hobby Lobby locations across the country Saturday because of the craft chain's lead role in a controversial challenge to President Barack Obama's health care reform law. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 54 on June 30 that family-owned businesses like Hobby Lobby do not have to offer their employees contraceptive coverage that conflicts with the owners' religious beliefe.
Critics call it a troubling ruling on several scores.
The Guttmacher Institute, a research and education center on reproductive health, points out that it "singled out contraception as a health service against which private companies may discriminate."
The Madison protest was organized by the
Wisconsin National Organization for Women and the Freedom from Religion Fbundation. "As far as I know it was the biggest Hobby Lobby protest in the country," says Dayna Long, president of Wisconsin NOW "So that was thrilling."
As with many local protests around issues of reproductive rights, though, the crowd skewed decidedly older, reinforcing the belief that younger feminists are not stepping up to do the kind of grassroots organizing that was done in the 1970s and 1980s around women's rights. But Long, who at 25 is the youngest president of a NOW chapter in the country, says that criticism is a bit unfair. "I think young feminists engage in feminism differently" she says, pointing to activism conducted online and through social media.
But she acknowledges that bringing younger women and men into the fold is a goal of NOW "That is an area where we need to be doing more work," she says.
To that end, NOW has helped organize a student group at UW-Madison that will launch this fall Long herself became active with NOW while a college student in
Illinois. She thinks college students have taken for granted the availability of birth control.
Though nine years apart, Inng and Schmidt experienced the same wake-up call two years ago. That was when radio host
Rush Limbaugh called law student and birth-control advocate Sandra Fluke a "slut" for using contraception. He made his comments as the congressional battle heated up over the requirement in the Affordable Care Act that employers' health insurancepolicies cover contraception.
"That's when it became clear to me that things were screwed up," says Long. "
Fbr this to be a widespread belief in 2012 was really shocking."
Homosexuality is also now widely viewed as something that is intrinsic to one's identity. "So the argument that [gay people] are choosing something that is immoral goes away," says Charo. "But with women and sex, it's still viewed as discretionary"
Conservative America still sees sex without the goal of procreation as recreational and dirty - "as opposed to something that is intrinsic to our well being," says Charo.
"If a private company can take its own religious beliefs and say you can't have access to certain health care, it's a hop, skip and a jump to an interpretation that a private company could have religious beliefs that LGBT people are not equal or somehow go against their beliefs and therefore fire them,"
Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, told the Washington Post. "We disagree with that trend. The implications of Hobby Lobby are becoming clear."