With myriad national crises consuming the lion’s share of the news cycles since Trump shutdown the government to impress Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter, with valuable assistance from Mitch McConnell, it was easy to miss what should be considered good news for women in 13 states – even if it is only temporary.
While many women, and the men who love them, are well aware that, spurred on by the Vatican, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the so-called personhood movement, Republicans are working feverishly to eradicate women’s reproductive rights.
Since the conservative Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling gave religious corporations the right to withhold contraception coverage from their employees, the Vatican-affiliated religious right has been on a tear to allow every employer to punish women, married or otherwise, who dare to have sexual relations “without consequences.”
Although Trump is not remotely religious, and certainly not a Christian by any measure, his administration has spent no small amount of energy to make a “substantial number of women lose access to birth control coverage” because it is contrary to the 1968 Papal encyclical on life – the so-called Humanae Vitae.
Last Friday during a hearing in California to block Trump’s effort to allow more employers to withhold the “contraception benefit” in health plans on “religious and moral grounds,” U.S. Federal Judge Haywood Gilliam remarked that the goal of the evangelicals’ rule was specifically to withhold contraception from “a substantial number of women.” The case was a continuation of the Hobby Lobby ruling objecting to the “contraception mandate” in health plans.
That vile Hobby Lobby ruling did not prevent all women from taking advantage of the contraception benefit, so Trump’s evangelical rule change attempted to extend the religious right’s control over women’s reproductive rights. It was mere months after Trump’s poorly-attended inauguration that his evangelical cabal eliminated the “contraception benefit” to satisfy the theocratic anti-women’s movement.
Specifically, the rule change allows more employers, including publicly traded companies, to control women’s reproductive health under the guise of “religious liberty.” Private employers were also given authority to withhold contraception coverage on whatever they claim are “moral grounds.”
The rule change was set to go into effect on Monday past, but after deliberation Judge Gilliam issued a preliminary injunction on Sunday to stop the rules from going into effect; but only for the 12 states and the District of Columbia that joined California to protect women’s bodily autonomy.
Judge Gilliam had previously blocked an “interim version” of the evangelicals’ rules, and equally noteworthy that his decision was upheld by a federal appellate court just last month. The latest case was necessary because the Trump evangelicals “finalized” the rules prompting another legal challenge by California, 12 other states, and the District of Columbia to protect women’s right to self-determination regarding reproduction.
The Judge did not block the rules from going into effect for the rest of the nation – likely because the remaining states are enamored with “trampling women’s access to basic reproductive care” and refused to join 13 other states to protect women’s reproductive rights. That was how California Attorney General Xavier Becerra framed what Trump and his religious right control-freaks’ goal is in expanding the Hobby Lobby decision across the workforce – “trample on women.” Mr. Becerra said:
"The law couldn't be more clear — employers have no business interfering in women's healthcare decisions. Today's court ruling stops another attempt by the Trump Administration to trample on women's access to basic reproductive care. It's 2019, yet the Trump Administration is still trying to roll back women's rights. Our coalition will continue to fight to ensure women have access to the reproductive healthcare they are guaranteed under the law."
It is almost certain that the fight to ensure women’s freedom to make their own reproductive healthcare choices will continue despite the latest ruling. The 2014 Hobby Lobby case was the first time the Supreme Court recognized a for-profit corporation's absurd claim of religious beliefs, and because that ruling was “limited to closely held corporations,” the anti-women’s choice movement has been frothing at the mouth to eliminate that “limitation;” anything to give greater numbers of employers authority to control women’s reproductive health choices.
It is worth remarking that President Barack Obama went to great lengths to accommodate all manner of anti-women’s organizations’ so-called religious objections to women marking their own reproductive health choices, but it was never enough. The anti-women’s rights movement objects to any woman deciding her own reproductive health and despite the law, they will not rest until all women are put in a place the Vatican and personhood movement insists they belong – in perpetual birth mode.
At least women in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia still have a measure of bodily independence, but with Trump’s religious right judges on the High Court, it is likely that autonomy is in jeopardy.
That is the price women are going to pay because there is an unwritten law in America that citing religion as the reason for the never-ending attacks on women’s rights is tantamount to committing treason. It is high time for Americans, especially those concerned about women’s rights, to cease pretending that America is not lurching towards a theocracy. All of these vile Republican policies attacking women’s rights have only one source – religion.